The health sector accounts for almost 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. If it were a country, hospitals and health systems would be the fifth largest emitter, and its greenhouse gas emissions are nearly double those from the entire airline industry.
Climate change is a public health issue that threatens all of us. Water and air pollution increase, leading to more chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma. Increased temperatures due to climate change lead to increased ground-level ozone, which cause airway inflammation and damages lung tissue. That hospitals are a leading cause of climate change producing emissions should be a call to action to all healthcare workers to reduce waste and lower emissions.
A closer look finds that over 80% of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the health sector comes from the supply chain (known as “Scope 3”). Urgent action is needed, and governments are taking notice.
Over forty countries have committed to reducing green-house gas emissions from the healthcare sector, including the United States. Given the impacts of the sector’s environmental footprint on global health, government-run and government reimbursed healthcare facilities have a moral responsibility to pursue initiatives that not only identify sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the supply chain, but also find lower emission alternatives.