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More than 40 nations pledge to cut emissions from their health sectors
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More than 40 nations pledge to cut emissions from their health sectors


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.”

42 countries have pledged to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas responsible for warming the planet, across their health systems. Twelve countries have pledged net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

The pledges were made by high-income countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany, and several low- and medium-income countries that are already vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as Fiji, the Bahamas, and the Maldives.

The health care sector accounts for almost five percentglobal carbon dioxide emissions. If it were a nation, it would be fifth largest emitter.

Many of these pledges are initial commitments and will need to be strengthened with more details on how the goals might have been achieved.

At this week’s global climate summit in Glasgow, the issue of public health has taken on a higher profileMore than any previous United Nations climate conference. There will be a dedicated pavilion for health, as well as a series speeches, panels, and lectures highlighting the impact of climate change on our health.

They included emotional pleas by mothers of children suffering from air pollution, including Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who spoke with Alok Sharma, the head of the conference, on Friday and whose daughter’s death from asthma was attributed to air pollution. New technologies were also presented, including the introduction a zero-emissions ambulance.

Already, there is a lot of research that supports this assertion. climate change is contributing to a wide range of health risksAll over the globe. It is increasing heat waves, intensifying wildfires as well as increasing flood risks and worsening droughts. These are causing an increase in heat-related deaths, pregnancy complications, and cardiovascular disease. As with all things climate-related risks and harms, they are especially severe in those areas that are least capable of responding.

The United States, which contributes more than 25% of global health-sector carbon dioxide emissions, joined the effort to clean up its health sector. The assistant secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, Admiral Rachel Levine said that the government would reduce carbon dioxide emissions at federal health facilities. These could include those owned by the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, incentives, guidance, and assistance would be provided to private-owned health facilities in order to make similar reductions.

Nineteen private US health care systems have already committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Biden Administration, the United States will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Health care accounts for 8.5 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the federal Health and Human Services division, more details would be provided Tuesday morning in a Glasgow-based public statement.

These commitments will require countries that significantly retool their healthcare sectors in order to fulfill them.

This would be beneficial for high-income countries as it would make the health care sector more efficient and less wasteful. However, it would also likely require the transformation or the supply of clean energy to the overall energy grids. For low- and middle-income countries, whose populations may not have regular access to health care or where health care facilities don’t have reliable energy, it will likely require building new and greener facilities at the same time as they are expanding health care coverage.

On Monday, international funders, including USAID, World Bank and the Green Climate Fund, had a closed-door conversation about how they would support low- and medium-income countries’ commitments.

“In the midst of the pandemic, we had to recover from extreme weather events and manage the resulting health impacts,” said Ifereimi Waqainabete, Fiji’s Minister for Health and Medical Services, in a statement. It “has shown us that health systems and facilities are the main line of defense in protecting populations from emerging threats.”

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