Released at World Health Assembly, “Climate-Smart Health Care” Outlines Low-Carbon and Resilience Strategies for the Health Sector

Geneva— The World Bank Group’s health and climate directors released a report today establishing a new framework for health systems in every country to become leaders in addressing climate change. The report is a joint production with Health Care Without Harm (1).

In its title, the report coins the term Climate-Smart Health Care, an approach that sets forth both low-carbon and resilience strategies. These strategies are designed for the development community, ministries of health, hospitals and health systems to deploy while addressing the health impacts of climate change.

James Close, Director of the World Bank’s Climate Change Group and Olusoji Adeyi Director of Health, Nutrition, and Population at the Bank jointly write: “The health sector has a substantial role to play in both mitigating climate change through the adoption of low-carbon strategies, while also building resilience to climate impact.”

While few countries have undertaken healthcare carbon footprint measurements, and further study is necessary to more comprehensively quantify healthcare’s contribution to climate change, the report makes a rough, first-ever estimate of health care’s global emissions. It conservatively finds that health care generates 5% of world-wide greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to 2.6 billion metric tons of CO2e in 2011.

“By reducing their emissions and becoming more resilient, health systems in every country can become leaders in contributing to both health and climate solutions,” says Josh Karliner, an International Director at Health Care Without Harm and one of the report’s authors.

Key findings include:

  • Health ministries can invest in affordable carbon reducing, health-focused initiatives in renewable energy, energy efficiency, local transport systems, sustainable and safe water use, safe waste disposal, and the purchase of locally and sustainably produced food.
  • There are several co-benefits to climate-smart healthcare, including improved health through a reduction in environmental pollution and climate change, as well as more efficient, less costly health systems and stronger local economies.
  • A climate-smart approach, including system design that decentralizes care, relying more on both prevention and telemedicine, can provide effective, cheaper care.
  • In low-resource, energy-poor settings, powering healthcare with low-carbon solutions can enhance access to care, contributing to climate resilience and the advancement of universal healthcare for the poor and most vulnerable.
  • Development institutions can support and fund health systems and sector actors to adopt key elements of climate-smart healthcare.
  • Development institutions can advocate that industries in the healthcare supply chain develop low-carbon and environmentally sustainable manufacturing and distribution practices.
  • Health systems can build climate resilience through investment in two areas:
    • Health system strengthening that prepares for the climate change’s environmental and health impacts; and
    • disease-specific responses to address the changing burden of disease related to climate change.

“Ultimately, climate-smart healthcare will strengthen health sectors and communities by ensuring access to clean and independent energy, safe water, clean transport, and clean waste disposal mechanisms,” says Timothy Bouley, Health and Climate Specialist at the World Bank. “It will stimulate the development and supply of sustainable products, while also preparing the sector for a future of known and unknown health-related climate hazards.”

HCWH will continue to work in collaboration with the World Bank Group to develop and implement Climate-Smart Healthcare in institutions, in countries, and with health systems around the world.

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Save the Date!

Webinar Presents New Report: Climate-Smart Health Care: Low-Carbon and Resilience Strategies for the Health Sector

Join report authors Timothy Bouley (Global Health and Environmental Specialist, World Bank), Josh Karliner (International Director of Program and Strategy, HCWH), and Susan Wilburn (Sustainability Director, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals) in our upcoming webinar and learn about Climate-Smart Health Care, strategies for implementation, and its benefits to human and environmental health.

Directed at policy makers and health sector practitioners working on projects and programs at various levels from large health systems to individual hospitals and health care facilities, the webinar will provide an overview of the report as well as strategies and case study examples to help guide attendees in the transition to climate-smart health care.


Session 1

June 27

  • 6 pm San Francisco (PDT)
  • 9 pm New York, Washington DC (EDT)

June 28

  • 9 am Manila (PHT), China (CST)

To access the time and date in your time zone, click here

To register, click here.

Session 2

June 28

  • 7 am San Francisco (PDT)
  • 10 am New York, Washington DC (EDT)
  • 11 am Buenos Aires (ART), São Paulo (BRT)
  • 4 pm Brussels (CEST)
  • 7.30 pm New Delhi (IST)
  • 10 pm Manila (PHT), China (CST)

To access the time and date in your time zone, click here

To register, click here.


(1) The report, Climate-Smart Health Care: Low-Carbon and Resilience Strategies for the Health Sector, is a joint production of the World Bank Group (Health Nutrition and Population Global Practice, and Climate Change Cross-Cutting Solutions Area), Health Care Without Harm and Mobilizing Action Toward Climate Change and Health. Six HCWH staff and senior advisers are among the nine authors.