Health minister commits to a low carbon, resilient healthcare system

Friday 07 October 2022

The Hon. Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, is speaking to the Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum in Newcastle today about achieving sustainable, climate-resilient healthcare in Australia.

Minister Butler describes climate change as “a global health threat [that] has not received the attention it fully deserves.”

“Let there be no mistake, we recognise the enormous threat to the safety and wellbeing of Australian communities posed by climate change,” said Minister Butler.

“The Albanese government is listening to the experts. We're prepared to act where others haven't.”

At the Greening the Health Sector Forum, health institutions and researchers will share lessons and case studies about making Australia’s healthcare system environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient.

“Hospitals, surgeries and clinics use huge amounts of energy, and produce mountains of waste each year. Sourcing energy from renewable sources, electrifying transport fleets, expanding telehealth, decarbonising the supply chain, and putting in place water and waste management strategies can change this, ” said Dr Stefanie Carino, Sustainable Healthcare Manager at the Climate and Health Alliance. 

“Australia’s health sector is keen to act. Many hospitals and health clinics are taking practical steps right now, with the guidance of state governments. Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum is a place where innovators can share success stories and inspire others.

“We now need federal leadership to really catalyse change on the scale that is needed. A national Sustainable Healthcare Unit would help coordinate efforts across the country.

Last month, health leaders gathered in Canberra supported urgent action on climate and health including creating a national Sustainable Healthcare Unit in the Commonwealth Department of Health. The unit would guide the health sector towards environmentally sustainable, decarbonised operations. 

In the UK, a similar model is credited with saving £90 million (over AU$150m) per year, mainly from energy, waste and water initiatives. “Sustainability often delivers big savings as well as big benefits for health and the environment. It’s past time for Australia to realise these benefits” concluded Dr Carino. 

Media contact: Remy Shergill, 0423 075 895, [email protected]