First-ever estimate of health care’s global climate footprint

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 launched today.

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.

The NHS is seen as a world leading healthcare system when it comes to sustainability. In 2018 the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) reported that between 2007 and 2017 the NHS delivered an 18.2% reduction in carbon emissions across the whole NHS value chain. The NHS is working towards carbon reduction targets in line with the Climate Change Act of 34% by 2020, 51% by 2025 and 57% by 2030; a fast-moving agenda to which the SDU is committed.

Download the full report from the HCWH website:


  1. Appendix A: Tabulated national health care emissions for the 43 WIOD countries
  2. Appendix B: Detailed methodology
  3. Appendix C: Health care emissions national snapshots

Report sections

  1. Executive summary
  2. Introduction and study methodology
  3. Findings
  4. Policy recommendations and final words