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Kerala's health department joins UN-backed Race to Zero campaign

05:20 PM Oct 25, 2021 | IANS

New Delhi: Health Care Without Harm, the official Race to Zero healthcare partner, on Monday announced that over 50 healthcare institutions collectively representing more than 11,500 healthcare facilities in 21 countries including India's Kerala, are part of the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign.

In joining the Race to Zero, these organizations commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. They become part of the largest ever alliance outside of national governments committed to delivering a zero carbon world in line with the Paris Agreement.

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The healthcare organizations in Race to Zero include institutions ranging from individual, public and private hospitals and health systems to entire provincial or state government health departments. In recent weeks several large health systems have signed on to this vital commitment.

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These systems include the Directorate of Health Services in Kerala, the international private healthcare and insurance system, Bupa, and CommonSpirit Health in the US.

They demonstrate global leadership in the healthcare sector by committing to net zero emissions and taking immediate climate action.

"It's exciting to see the momentum of healthcare organizations worldwide join the Race to Zero. All health organizations, large and small, can accelerate the transition to a healthier, sustainable, and more equitable world," said UN High Level Climate Champion Gonzalo Muoz.

"At a time when Kerala is facing unprecedented climate events, the state Health Department has shown its commitment to climate resilience and pledged to achieve net zero healthcare by signing up to the Race to Zero program. This initiative brings health facilities of the state on track to being low carbon and climate resilient," said Kerala Minister of Health and Family Welfare Veena George.

"As a global healthcare company, we are very conscious that people's health depends on a healthy planet and we believe we can continue to deliver high-quality healthcare while mitigating our impact on the environment. We can't do this alone, that's why we are so incredibly proud to join the Race to Zero campaign with Health Care Without Harm, setting our ambition to become a net zero business by 2040 and joining leading healthcare companies who are also committed to drive change for a healthy people and healthy planet," said Nigel Sullivan, Chief Sustainability and People Officer, Bupa.

In the lead-up to COP26, Race to Zero healthcare leadership is part of a diverse and growing global health sector movement for climate action.

National government ministries are making high-level commitments to healthcare decarbonization and resilience, while more than 45 million health professionals have called for aggressive action to protect people's health from climate change.

Health sector decarbonization is critical to reducing global emissions.

Health Care Without Harm's 2019 report shows the sector's climate footprint is equivalent to 4.4 per cent of global net emissions, with the majority originating from fossil fuels used across facility operations, the supply chain, and the broader economy.

To guide the sector's decarbonization, Health Care Without Harm's Global Road Map demonstrates how implementing seven high-impact actions can reduce global emissions by 44 gigatons over 36 years, equivalent to keeping more than 2.7 billion barrels of oil in the ground each year, and potentially saving more than five million lives by the end of the century.

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