Global road map for health care decarbonization

A navigational tool for achieving zero emissions with climate resilience and health equity

Executive summary

This report is about actions that help transform societies toward a resilient, sustainable, and healthy future. It is specific about how health leaders can best contribute. It recognizes that, in the pursuit of universal health coverage, health systems face very different challenges and that the equitable pursuit of decarbonization pathways is essential.  -- From the Foreword by Dr. David Nabarro, WHO Special Envoy on COVID-19.

Trajectories: Navigating an uncertain future

The Road Map assigns countries one of four health care decarbonization trajectories. Together they target zero emissions, aligning the sector with the Paris Agreement ambition. Nations with large health care emissions need to decarbonize the most rapidly. Yet all countries, no matter their trajectory, need to take climate action now.

Charting a Course: Toward zero emissions health care

The Road Map identifies seven high-impact actions implemented across three intersecting pathways as key to health care decarbonization. In charting a course to zero, the sector must also pursue transformational innovation in health care delivery, operations, supply chain, and disease prevention that can also build resilience and health equity.

Driving Change: High-level policy recommendations

Health care has an opportunity to be a climate leader by moving to zero emissions, resilience and equity. It can also help drive broader societal transformation and protect public health from climate change. Such far reaching systemic change requires health care climate action from all levels of government, international institutions, the private sector and civil society.

Technical report

A detailed report on the research methodology, modelling, limitations and data analytics used in the Road Map.

68 detailed fact sheets with information on each country’s health sector emissions and recommendations for achieving zero emissions health care.


An exploration of the potential health care emissions reductions from four major health interventions: curbing tobacco use, lowering meat consumption, reducing obesity, and tackling ambient air pollution.

Recommended interventions

An overview of multiple interventions for how the sector can implement each of the Road Map’s seven high-impact actions. The interventions are organized by action and accompany the “Charting a course” chapter in the Road Map.

Health care’s climate footprint

The report establishes the first-ever analysis of the global health care’s climate footprint–more than 4.4% of net global climate emissions, equivalent to the annual emissions of 514 coal-fired power plants. The report concludes that the health sector practice primary prevention by reducing its emissions and providing leadership to a low-carbon, climate-smart, more equitable, and healthier future. The report lays the foundation for the Global Road Map’s course to zero emissions health care by 2050.

Designing a net zero roadmap for healthcare: Technical methodology and guidance

This resource, developed by Health Care Without Harm Europe, supports any national or regional health authority to measure its health care emissions and develop a Paris-compatible decarbonization roadmap.

Road Map Launch at Skoll World Forum - April 14, 2021

Health leaders from around the world launch Healthcare Decarbonization, Resilience, Equity: A Road Map. Speakers include Dr. David Nabarro, World Health Organization Special Envoy on COVID-19, Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, Dr. Maria Neira, Director, Environment, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization, Dr. Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director: HIV and Health Group, United Nations Development Programme. Opening poem read by Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. National Poet Laureate Emeritus, and closing song by Mia Kama, climate activist.