Health sector gets first-ever guide to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Friday 16 April 2021

The first ever road map to guide the health sector to zero greenhouse gas emissions has been launched in Australia by the Climate and Health Alliance and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (Pacific Region).

The report Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonization: a navigational tool for achieving zero emissions with climate resilience and health equity, produced by Health Care Without Harm and Arup, provides a road map for the global health sector to fully decarbonise in an equitable way.

For the Australia health sector to play their part, it needs to steeply and rapidly decrease GHGs, reaching net zero around 2042, with immediate and aggressive action through:

  • Powering healthcare with 100% renewable energy
  • Investing in zero emissions buildings and infrastructure
  • Transitioning to zero emissions transport
  • Providing healthy and sustainably grown food
  • Producing low-carbon pharmaceutical products
  • Implementing circular and sustainable healthcare waste management
  • Improving effectiveness of the health system

Australia’s health sector annually produces 30-35 megatonnes of GHGs, or 5-7% of Australia’s total GHGs. Australia’s healthcare per capita GHGs are the third highest of the 68 countries examined. 

The road map shows how global health care can reduce GHGs by 44 gigatons over 36 years, equivalent to keeping over 2.7 billion barrels of oil in the ground each year. 

The road map builds on growing advocacy for climate action from the health sector. Last month, the Australian Medical Association and Doctors for the Environment Australia called on the Australian health sector to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2040, with an interim target of 80 per cent by 2030.


  • Full report available here
  • Australian fact sheet here
  • Register for the launch, 2pm 16 Mar, here

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



CAHA Sustainable Healthcare Program Manager and GGHH Pacific Region Coordinator, Carol Behne says:
"Australian states and territories have committed to net zero emissions by 2050, but do not have clear plans to get the health sector to net zero emissions, as the National Health Service in the UK have done. The latest science shows we must get to net zero emissions much earlier. As one of the biggest polluting sectors in Australia, it is critical that the health sector plays its part in cutting emissions to tackle climate change, the biggest health challenge we face.

"This road map shows how the health sector can achieve zero emissions and uphold its moral imperative to ‘do no harm’. Many health institutions in Australia are working to reduce their emissions, and this road map provides a comprehensive guide for how to rapidly scale this up. But we must see government policy to guide and help accelerate these efforts.

"The Global Road Map comes at a time when ambitious carbon reduction targets are being announced by Australian health services, like Hunter New England Local Health District, Ambulance Victoria and UnitingCare Queensland. We want to see a national commitment to implementing the Road Map strategies across all health services."

UnitingCare Queensland Manager Environmental Sustainability, Judene Andrews:
"We are committed to working towards a healthy, more equitable and greener world. We are thrilled to see that this world-first zero emissions guide aligns with our ambitious targets, including improving energy efficiency, sourcing all electricity from renewable energy, and more.

"Action on climate change is crucial to protect health, and we encourage all Australian healthcare organisations to integrate the road map key actions into their sustainability plans."