Expert comment - Coalition commitments to building sustainable, low-carbon health systems

Governments of 50 countries, which include some of those most vulnerable to the health harms caused by climate change as well as some of the world’s biggest carbon emitters, have committed to take concrete steps towards creating climate-resilient health systems.
Andy Haines quotecard

A group of 50 countries have committed to developing climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems, at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, in response to growing evidence of the impact of climate change on people's health.

45 of these countries have also committed to transform their health systems to be more sustainable and low-carbon, with 14 setting a target date to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Professor Sir Andy Haines, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, reacts: "The commitments announced today are a major step forward in tackling the greenhouse emissions from health care systems that collectively account for 4-5% of global emissions. Mobilising health systems around the world will have important impacts across economies because supply chains are responsible for a major proportion of health system emissions. This means that health systems will need to implement procurement policies that incentivise suppliers including in the pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries to decarbonise their activities.

"In addition, because health professionals are highly trusted by the public around the world, they can play a major role in advocating for accelerated climate action by governments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Such actions will both reduce the risks of climate change to health and result in large near term benefits, including from reduced air pollution and through food systems that support healthy, sustainable dietary choices. Additionally, since health systems are already experiencing the effects of climate change on health increasing their resilience to climate shocks and increasing heat will be essential to reduce the impacts on health."

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