Analysis: Momentum is building for health care climate action

As the climate crisis progresses, the health care sector is stepping up to reduce its environmental footprint. It is not a minor task: To put it in context, if the sector were a country, it would be the fifth leading climate polluter in the world. 

“The health sector is one of the most critical areas for addressing and responding to climate change. Getting the health sector on track toward net zero is an opportunity for decarbonization that is hiding in plain sight," says Patrick Osewe, Health Sector Chief, Asian Development Bank, and one of the authors.

In this new commentary published in The Lancet, authors from Health Care Without Harm, the Asian Development Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, and the Public Health Foundation of India analyze how different actors work towards reducing the sector's environmental footprint.

Different initiatives have been building momentum during and after COP26 in Glasgow. Actions and projects are transversal and involve actors that range from national and subnational governments to multilateral organizations, from national health ministries and services to private health care organizations. 

Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, speaking at the G20 Health Working Group Side event on climate and health

Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, speaking at the G20 Health Working Group side event on climate and health. Photo: Health Care Without Harm.

Josh Karliner, Director of Global Partnerships, Health Care Without Harm, highlights that the challenge is to join forces with other sectors of society to ensure that this momentum outpaces and ultimately reverses the rapidly accelerating climate crisis that threatens our planet's and all people's health.

“With more than 65 governments committed to health care decarbonization and resilience as part of WHO’s ATACH, and with more coming on board every month, we are experiencing a groundswell of interest in climate and health. Now, the challenge is to turn ambition into action,” says María Neira, WHO Director, Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

Read it in The Lancet.