Health care’s climate footprint report

How the health sector contributes to the global climate crisis and opportunities for action.

If the global health care sector were a country, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet, according to Health care’s climate footprint: How the health sector contributes to the global climate crisis and opportunities for action, a report by Health Care Without Harm in collaboration with Arup.

The report provides the most comprehensive global analysis of health care’s contribution to climate change to date. Specifically, the report:

  1. Provides a global estimate of health care’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as provide 43 country estimates broken down by Scopes 1, 2, and 3.
  2. Examines how energy, food, anesthetic gases, and transportation contribute to health care’s global climate footprint.
  3. Identifies opportunities for further research and methodological development that would support the sector in its efforts to understand and address its climate footprint.
  4. Outlines a series of international, national and subnational policy recommendations for health care climate action.

The report makes the case for a transformation of the health care sector that aligns it with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees celsius. 

"Places of healing should be leading the way, not contributing to the burden of disease,” says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization.

Since this first effort in calculating global GHG emissions in 2019, the Lancet Countdown:Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change annually reports on this indicator as key in understanding the health sector's effort in decarbonizing.