Health Care Climate Learning Initiative

Stronger together: Shared learning to achieve shared goals

Together with our partners around the world, Health Care Without Harm convened representatives from 98 health care organizations spanning 20 countries to share their learnings from implementing decarbonization and climate resilience initiatives. The Health Care Climate Learning Initiative began with a series of workshops in 2023 that brought together health care leaders to discuss proven practices, share challenges, and collaborate on climate goals and strategies. Read the story behind this global initiative.

Guidance for health care climate action

The proven practices shared by health care organizations around the world as part of the Health Care Climate Learning Initiative were used to develop step-by-step guidance for sustainable, climate-smart care.

Case studies

Health Care Without Harm and its partners convened health care organizations from 17 countries around the world to share  38 case studies, featuring videos, photos, and graphics that illustrate their challenges, victories, and lessons learned as each found their path to achieve net zero. Explore the case studies below.

Learning objectives

  1. Gathering support and resource allocation from leadership, and an expressed commitment to climate action. Browse the case studies.
  2. Baselining and estimating emissions and risks, strategies, and action plans. Browse the case studies.
  3. Developing a carbon or climate management plan to improve facility- and community-based climate adaptation and resilience. Browse the case studies.
  4. High-impact interventions to reduce emissions and build resilience and adaptive capacity. Browse the case studies.

Case study videos

Learning objective 1
Australia: Building internal support for a sustainability strategy & commitment to climate action

Hunter New England Health District in New South Wales, Australia, shares how they used a top-down and bottom-up strategy to gather commitment to “whole-of-district” sustainability strategy, with a goal to achieve carbon and waste neutrality by 2030.

Learning objective 1
Nepal: Implementing health care sustainability & climate resilience practices

To gain a deeper understanding of health care’s role in addressing the health impacts of climate-induced disasters, the Health Environment and Climate Action Foundation (HECAF360) implemented a pilot project, led by Nepal’s Department of Health Services and supported by World Health Organization, in which they identified the major climate-induced disasters impacting three health care facilities in different ecological regions of Nepal, along with their adaptation and mitigation practices.

Learning objective 2
India: Greenhouse gas emissions & utility inventory management for decarbonization

India’s largest health care enterprise, Apollo Hospitals Group, shares how they are tracking monthly energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water withdrawal, and waste generation for 40 of their largest facilities as part of their Apollo Sustainability Action Plan. To effectively consolidate and analyze data for action, Apollo Hospitals Group developed a robust, IT-driven platform to aggregate data from all their hospitals.

Learning objective 2
Brazil: Climate governance in public health services

Brazilian public health services managed by Associação Paulista para o Desenvolvimento da Medicina (SPDM) improved tracking processes across care units and consolidated the results to raise awareness among employees on the topic of climate change, inform actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expenses, establish ambitious goals, and select climate action priorities.

Learning objective 2
United Kingdom: Five steps for a net-zero supply chain

Together with SmartCarbon Ltd., The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust created a bespoke SmartCarbon Calculator platform for the health care sector and a five-step program for a net-zero supply chain. This addresses the shortcomings of previous, spend-based methods to calculate supply chain emissions, and actively involves and supports suppliers.

Learning objective 3
United States: Creating healthier communities through a comprehensive carbon management plan

Providence describes their climate mitigation, adaptation, and advocacy strategies. To achieve their goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030, the health system developed the “WE ACT” framework to organize, mobilize, track, and report their greenhouse gas reduction efforts across five major categories. They are also developing a climate resiliency plan, called “WE REACH” (resiliency, equity, adaptation, climate, and health), and will elevate areas where the two frameworks interrelate.

Learning objective 3
Taiwan: Installing hospital waste & energy management systems to achieve sustainability goals

Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation shares how they developed a structure to support their commitment to sustainability and leveraged it to assess and manage interventions, including reducing energy consumption by transitioning to more efficient lighting, reducing waste by eliminating single-use plastics, reducing water demand by increasing gray water usage, and serving plant-based foods.

Learning objective 4
Colombia: High-impact interventions to reduce hospital emissions

Hospital San Rafael de Pasto, a mental health facility in Colombia, shares how implementing solutions such as substituting fuels and using renewable energy for drying hospital linens enabled them to reduce their energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and occupational risks.

Learning objective 4
South Africa: Reducing rural hospital emissions & incineration through on-site waste treatment

George Regional Hospital, a rural facility in Western Cape, South Africa, shares how shifting to on-site treatment of medical waste enabled them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also reducing medical waste incineration, a major environmental justice and health issue in the region.

Learning objective 4
India: Increasing health care access & reducing greenhouse gas emissions with assisted telemedicine

Aravind Eye Care, serving the Tamil Nadu region of India, shares how they are reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of satellite assisted telemedicine centers, while providing subsidized primary eye care to peri-urban populations who previously did not have eye care facilities in their region.

Learning objective 4
Scotland: Improving the climate impact of surgery

NHS Highland in Scotland shares the results of a pilot project at Raigmore Hospital that achieved major greenhouse gas emissions reductions by changing anesthetics in operating theaters and implementing low-flow anesthesia machines. The project was so effective, it was integrated into the NHS Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy 2022-26 as the National Green Theatres Programme.

Initiative objectives

  1. Foster bi-directional and multi-directional learning among Race to Zero health care participants – a cohort of hospitals and health systems defining the leading edge of health care decarbonization by committing to net-zero emissions.
  2. Identify a set of lessons learned that can inform the health care sector as it seeks to align with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
  3. Identify interconnections and model approaches linking health care decarbonization, community resilience, and health equity. 
  4. Identify strategies that strengthen the established global network and bolster our ability to support Race to Zero’s health care members around the world as they decarbonize and build resilient health systems.
  5. Support the acceleration, broadening, and deepening of health care’s trajectory to zero emissions, climate resilience, and health equity.

Participating health care organizations submitted case studies demonstrating progress in one or more of the following areas.

Support for this project was provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Global Ideas for U.S. Solutions team. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.