Health Care Climate Action Update at COP27 | Leading the way for a Healthy Climate

Update November 07, 2022

Health Care Without Harm participates in and leads different initiatives that advocate for a healthier, more resilient and inclusive health care delivery around the world.

Check out Health Care Climate Action gains momentum from COP26 to COP27.


COP26 Health Programme

  • Launched in November under the leadership ofthe WHO, the COP26 Presidency and Health Care Without Harm, the programme’s efforts resulted in over 50 countries committing to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26).
  • Health Care Without Harm’s role: Health Care Without Harm’s Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonization became a seminal tool for governments, health care providers, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations on guidance how to achieve global net zero healthcare by 2050. The Road Map was foundational to the formation of the COP26 Health Programme and HCWH’s role in helping establish and convene government engagement.
  • As of 9/29/2022, 61 countries have committed at the Ministry of Health level to this initiative, with 20 having committed to a net zero target. This comprises more than 40percent of all health care emissions.
  • COP 26 Health Programme evolved into the Alliance on Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH). The Alliance builds on the COP26 Health Programme and supports participating countries to implement their commitments to climate resilient and low carbon sustainable health systems.
  • WHO serves as the Secretariat for ATACH, an informal Alliance that provides a platform for coordination, knowledge and best practice exchange, networking, access to support and link up to existing initiatives, among others.
  • The outgoing and incoming COP Presidencies—UK and Egypt—co-chair ATACH. There are four working groups on resilience, finance, supply chain and sustainable, low carbon health systems.
  • In Europe, Germany’s health ministry has led the G7 effort to support the implementation of the COP26 commitments. England’s NHS has continued to move toward net zero.–Health Care Without Harm participates in all working groups and co-chairs, with the government of Fiji, the low-carbon sustainable health systems working group. Health Care Without Harm is also working with several governments in developing countries to support implementation of the commitments.
  • ATACH will have a high-level side event at COP27 on November 9th.
  • The organization is leading a UNFCCC Climate Champions Futures Lab on health care at COP27 on November 10. The event includes an update of implementation progress of the COP26 health commitments.


G7 Health Ministers

  • G7 health ministers declared their aim “to build environmentally sustainable and climate-neutral health systems at the latest by 2050 and to support other countries in this effort.”
  • The G7 comprises 41% of global health care climate emissions. Its parallel commitment to ATACH brings the total percentage of health emissions slated for decarbonization to almost 48% of all global health emissions.
  • Health Care Without Harm’s role: The organization is working with several G7 governments and health systems to support implementation of the commitments made at COP26 and the G7 declaration. There is real momentum toward implementation in several countries.
  • In the U.S. the HHS is taking a series of steps to move the sector toward decarbonization and resilience. Health Care Without Harm supports the work of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Climate Change and Health Equity, sits on the steering committee of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Decarbonizing the Health Sector, and leads the Health Care Climate Council, an alliance of leading health systems across the U.S. committed to climate action.
  • Through Operation Zero, Health Care Without Harm is working closely with several EU governments, including the Netherlands and Portugal to develop the methodology and tools to measure the health system carbon footprints, and to design road maps to chart a course to zero emissions.


UN Race to Zero

  • Health Care Without Harm is the UN-backed Race to Zero health care partner responsible for enlisted health care institutions globally to join the Race to Zero by committing to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world.
  • In 2021, over 50 health care institutions, collectively representing more than 14,000 health care facilities in 21 countries joined the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign where Health Care Without Harm coordinates the health care component.
  • In 2022 to date, sixty-four health care institutions representing the interests of over 14,000 hospitals and health centers in 22 countries are now part of the Race to Zero. Health Care Without Harm is working with many of these institutions around the world to support implementation and reporting of these commitments. On 10/6/2022, the U.S. HHS office of Climate Change & Health Equity, and Environmental Justice held a webinar, International Perspectives on Resiliency and Decarbonization, featuring Race to Zero global updates and case studies.


Climate Impact Checkup

  • Health Care Without Harm launched Climate Impact Checkup, a calculator that helps health care institutions anywhere in the world measure their GHG footprint. It provides a starting point to measure, manage, and support mitigation goals and action planning no matter where a facility is located.
  • Health Care Without Harm signed an MOU with the government of Colombia to help it measure its health care climate footprint using Climate Impact Checkup as part of its implementation of its COP26 commitment. Currently there are 262 institutions (hospitals, clinics, health care facilities in 23 countries that are using this carbon calculator.
  • The calculator measures GHG emissions across Scopes 1, 2, 3. In 2022, an additional 11 categories were added to Scope 3 that include business services, construction, food and catering, information and communication technologies, manufactured fuels, chemicals, and gases, medical Instruments / equipment, other manufactured products, paper products, pharmaceuticals, water and sanitation, other procurement.


Health Care Climate Challenge

  • The Health Care Without Harm Health Care Climate Challenge (HCCC) engages and equips health care institutions – from small clinics to large health systems to ministries of health – to commit to effective climate action while building collective impact across countries. In 2021, the HCCC initiative had 339 participants representing the interests of 25,569 hospitals and health centers in 38 countries.
  • In 2022, the HCCC initiative has 367 participants representing the interests of 26,662 hospitals and health centers in 43 countries. Many of these participants are also in the Race to Zero.


Health care professionals as a leading voice for climate action

  • #HealthyClimate Prescription: Health Care Without Harm worked in collaboration with an alliance of health professionals to deliver the Prescription message along with this special video to the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow. Over 600 organizations representing over 46 million health workers, together with over 3,400 individuals from 102 different countries, signed the letter to national leaders and country delegations, calling for real action to address the climate crisis by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to make human health and equity central to all climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.
  • Health groups, including the WHO Director General Tedros, called for a global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty. This call to action was published on September 14, urging governments to agree to a legally binding plan phasing out fossil fuel exploration and production, similar to the framework convention on tobacco, which was negotiated under the WHO’s auspices in 2003.
  • Health Care Without Harm’s role: The drafting of the letter was led by Health Care Without Harm, The Global Climate and Health Alliance and Physicians for Social Responsibility's Environment & Health Program.