Doctors for the Environment Australia commends England's National Health Service (NHS) commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, and calls on the Australian health sector to likewise commit to a net-zero target.
Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin says emission reductions across all sectors should be commensurate with achieving the goal of limiting warming to 1.5° C.
"As a sector we need to be putting our own house in order. The health sector in Australia contributes to nearly 7% of Australia’s total carbon emissions.
"It is unconscionable that we continue to run hospitals on electricity from fossil fuel combustion which contributes to a warming climate, as well as air pollution which is associated with 3000 premature deaths annually in Australia. "
NHS England is the first national health system to commit to net zero carbon emissions, and the first major health system, public or private, to make a commitment of this scale.
In today’s announcement, the health service committed to achieve:
"COVID-19 has challenged us to adapt and re-imagine a health care system, and we need to continue to flexibly adapt and prepare for other threats on the horizon”, says Dr Yin.
"Sustainability needs to be embedded as a core principle within healthcare delivery.
"A sustainable health sector is a sector that wastes less and uses its resources more efficiently.
"The UK has demonstrated that it can both reduce emissions and reduce costs if supported by a Sustainable Development Unit tasked with driving change.
"Australia needs a similar organisation tasked with reforming the health sector towards sustainability.
"Early gains can be achieved if we quickly transition to renewable energy.
"With the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has followed science-based recommendations. We need to do the same with climate change and create climate resilient healthcare systems while also addressing the climate crisis.”
The details of the NHS plan can be found HERE.
DEA's proposal for an Australian Healthcare Sustainability Unit
Please call DEA’s Media and Communications Coordinator Carmela Ferraro on 0410 703 074
DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment http://dea.org.au
We are supported by a Scientific Advisory Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Colin Butler, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan