Healthcare in a post-COP26 World

Healthcare in a post-COP26 World

Given the social, political and economic momentum created in the run up to, and during, the United Nations 26th climate change annual summit ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP26) in Glasgow, how will this all impact the healthcare sector in 2022 and beyond?

As a starting point, it is estimated that healthcare globally accounts for 4% of carbon dioxide emissions. To put that in context, this is more than the either the aviation or shipping industries. Why is this?

It is primarily as a result to health systems requiring round-the-clock operations, employing specialist medical equipment and extensive use of air conditioning and refrigerated storage amongst other factors. Regrettably, warming of the planet has inevitably led to more issues affecting people’s health, in turn placing more stress and reliance on the existing healthcare systems in place, and so the loop continues to go round.

In tackling this, as part of the wider COP26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) established the COP26 Health Programme, described as a flagship initiative to bring a stronger health focus and ambition to COP26. As part of this programme, over 50 countries committed to building climate resilient health systems, and 45 of these 50 countries committed to more sustainable low carbon health systems. Fourteen of these countries also set a target date to reach net zero carbon emissions in the health system before 2050.

More generally, WHO and the global health community published special report on climate change and health, ‘The Health Argument for Climate Action’. It provided 10 recommendations for governments on how to maximise the health benefits of tackling client change in a variety of sectors, including energy, finance, transport and food.

This coincided with an open letter signed by organisation representing over 45 million health professions, making up some two-thirds of the global health workforce, outlining:

“Wherever we deliver care, in our hospitals, clinics and communities around the world, we are already responding to the health harms caused by climate change.”

“We call on the leaders of every country and their representatives at COP26 to avert the impending health catastrophe by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to make human health and equity central to all climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.” So it is clear that health and climate change are more closely linked than ever before and as a result of action demanded, and commitments made at COP26, significant change and improvement is coming to the healthcare sector in a post-COP26 world.

For more information, contact our Healthcare Team today

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