Nov. 8, 2021Updated 6:41 p.m. ET
More than 40 countries have pledged to cut greenhouse-gas emissions across their health systems, World Health Organization officials said late Monday, representing the largest global effort to date to try to reduce contributions by the world’s hospitals and health care industry to global warming.
“This announcement is huge,” said Josh Karliner, the international director of program and strategy at Health Care Without Harm, a nonprofit that has worked to reduce the environmental impact of the health care sector. It is designed to put the industry on a path toward “net zero” emissions of greenhouse gases, he said, and “what it implies is that the way health care is provided is going to be fundamentally transformed.”
The governments of 42 countries have said they will lower their emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that is warming the world, across their health systems. Twelve countries have pledged to reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050.
The pledges have come from high-income countries including the United States, Britain and Germany, as well as several low- and middle-income countries that are already among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as the Bahamas, Fiji and the Maldives.