Sustainability Award Highly Commended 2022: Arup with Health Care Without Harm

Sustainability Award

Arup and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) launched a pioneering Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonization at the Skoll World Forum in April 2021. This built on our earlier collaboration, which established the first-ever global estimate of healthcare’s climate footprint – the sector accounts for over 4.4% of global net emissions.

In charting a course to net-zero, we collaborated with HCWH and expert partners and used advanced analysis on global data to complete new research. We projected healthcare emissions to 2050 and identified seven high-impact action areas that could save 44 gigatons of CO2e over 36 years.

Our road map now establishes, for the first time, the scale of transformation essential for healthcare to achieve net-zero, while improving health equity. It sets out three climate action pathways for the sector to achieve net-zero by 2050, while strengthening resilience, reducing the likelihood of future pandemics, and enhancing health outcomes. We also produced detailed decarbonisation factsheets for 68 countries.

Our research and modelling provided a robust evidence-base for HCWH and partners including the UK COP Presidency and the World Health Organization to lobby for climate action as part of the COP26 Health Programme. This helped lead to:

  • 51 countries – representing around 38% of global healthcare emissions – committing to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems. These national governments formally committed to create climate-resilient health systems. 45 also committed to transform their health systems to be more sustainable and low-carbon, and 14 set a net-zero target date for on or before 2050.
  • 54 institutions from 21 countries, representing more than 14,000 hospitals and health centres, joining the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Race to Zero, of which the HCWH Health Care Climate Challenge is the official healthcare partner. All committed to reduce emissions across all scopes swiftly and fairly, in line with the Paris Agreement, including halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2050.

Building on this, HCWH launched Operation Zero, which Arup is supporting. Working with health systems in Italy, Portugal, Romania and the Netherlands, this ground-breaking initiative will:

  • Further develop the methodology for health authorities and institutions to chart their own road maps, while supporting system resilience and improving health outcomes.
  • Pilot the methodology, generating valuable feedback to refine the methodology and drive progress.

Our collaboration with HCWH will have a continuing impact and influence on decarbonising healthcare to 2050 and potentially beyond. For example, in framing the forward initiatives by HCWH to make health a key sector for the UN High Level Climate Champions and for the road map and Operation Zero methodology to be recognised as a Marrakech style pathway through its next iterations. It is also influencing the development of the National Framework for Healthcare Climate Action, a programme through which HCWH, ministerial partners like the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and the UN organisations aim to guide large health systems and ministries to decarbonise and to provide executives and policymakers with resources to develop their course of action.

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