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Argentina: Sets example as first country to include health care decarbonization in its global climate commitment
Argentina became the first government in the world to include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the health care sector in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“This marks the beginning of what we believe will be a growing movement by governments across the globe to make health care decarbonization part of their NDCs,” says Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy, Health Care Without Harm.
“With the climate negotiations coming up in the United Kingdom in November, and England’s National Health Service having also just committed to a net zero target, we expect several governments to follow Argentina’s example and integrate health care into their climate action plans under the Paris Agreement,” Karliner adds.
Argentina’s NDC, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the end of 2020, establishes health as a cross-cutting issue, central to addressing climate change. It identifies health-centered climate adaptation and resilience measures as have other countries. However, in a new development, Argentina’s NDC calls for an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from its health care sector itself and the establishment of actions to reduce those emissions as a priority for implementing their NDC.
“By including health sector adaptation and mitigation in its NDC, Argentina is taking a big step toward strengthening its health system to prepare for and help prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis,” says Antonella Risso, International Climate Technical and Research Manager, Health Care Without Harm.
According to Andrea Hurtado Epstein, Climate Program Coordinator for Latin America, Health Care Without Harm, “This NDC commitment lays the groundwork for high impact actions in a sector that has not traditionally been seen as an important source of emissions.”
Health care’s global climate footprint makes up 4.4% of net global emissions. If the global health care sector were a country, it would be the fifth largest climate polluter on the planet. Argentina’s climate footprint in 2015 was estimated at 16.4 Mt CO2e, or 3.9% of the country’s total emissions.
Governments will convene for COP26 in Glasgow Scotland November 1-12, where they will present their revised NDCs.
Health Care Without Harm works with hospitals, health systems, health professionals, governments and international organizations to support the health care sector to reduce its carbon footprint, build resilience and take leadership action to protect public health from the climate crisis.
February 24, 2021
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