Decarbonising health care: Australia joins US, UK statement

Tuesday, 23 April, 2024

Decarbonising health care: Australia joins US, UK statement

The federal government has signed a public statement of collaboration with the United States and United Kingdom to decarbonise healthcare supply chains.

The National Health Service in England and the United States Department of Health and Human Services are leading the public statement initiative, and other countries that have signed include Ireland and Norway.

Green procurement

Chris Gormley, Chief Sustainability Officer, National Health Service England, said, “The NHS net zero supplier roadmap outlines the changes we’re introducing to help suppliers align with our net zero ambition, and we welcome work with colleagues in the USA, Australia and other countries to consider their own engagement with suppliers on this important issue.”

The collaboration will see Australia participate in discussions about green procurement and, in particular, on two main areas: getting suppliers to disclose their carbon emissions and setting targets for reducing emissions.

The health system is responsible for around 5% of Australia’s carbon emissions. Many medicines and health technologies used in Australia are imported from overseas. It is estimated that these global supply chains account for around 75% of the Australian health sector’s carbon footprint.

Preparing for challenges

“From extreme heat to more frequent bushfires, climate change is forever changing our environment and how we live. Australia needs a health system that is prepared for these challenges,” said Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney MP.

“Addressing the health impacts of climate change requires everyone onboard; it requires international collaboration. Australia is stepping up and joining the UK and US in accelerating the decarbonisation of our health systems and supply chains.

“Reducing carbon emissions from the production and supply of healthcare goods and services is a very effective way to make healthcare greener.”

Australia’s involvement in this collaboration follows the release of the National Health and Climate Strategy at the 28th United Nations Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai in 2023.

Support from the health workforce

There is strong support from the health workforce for reducing health system emissions, with the federal government working with states and territories to develop or strengthen green healthcare procurement policies, said a statement from Kearney.

The announcement contributes to two of the National Health and Climate Strategy’s objectives, including building a sustainable, high-quality, net zero health system, as well as collaborating internationally.

John Balbus, Director of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, United States Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We are pleased to collaborate with the Australian Government. “This type of cooperation is critical to accelerating our efforts to reduce the significant emissions associated with the health sector’s global supply chain.”

Image credit: Khirisutchalual

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