The Carbon Footprint of Australian Health Care

Carbon footprints in health care system attributes to the planetary threat of climate change. Major countries like USA and UK contributes about 10% and 4% total carbon footprints respectively.  Each nation requires data on carbon emissions based on different economic sectors. Because climate change is an ultimate global health problem and information about the contributions of health care to the carbon footprints becomes more important. Australia has a small population yet has one of the highest carbon dioxide emissions per person in the world. Hospitals and pharmaceutical industries are accountable for the high carbon footprints linked with health care in Australia.


Carbon Dioxide Emission on Health Care System

Australia spend about AUS$161 billion on health care from year 2014-2015 that corresponds to 9.4% country’s gross domestic product. Health care has 7% of Australia’s entire carbon dioxide emissions whereas residential and other construction has 14% carbon dioxide emissions. And it signifies that health care is half on every single constructed building, pipeline, house, oil rig and rail road. Also health care is equal to the total carbon footprints of all activities including transport, electricity, food, entertainment and purchases. Hospitals comprise half of the total health care while pharmaceuticals contribute 20% more total carbon dioxide emissions. Medical services has 6% while general practitioners has 4% and direct used of fuel contributes 10% carbon dioxide emissions. Indirect productions due to purchases from economic sector shares almost 90% of the total.


The carbon footprints on economic sectors vary each year ensuing different carbon intensity. Based on statistics of Australia’s health care indicates that expenditure is rising and more money being spend. Notably there is linear association between carbon footprints emission and expenditures showing that high expenditures causes in high carbon dioxide productions. Indeed, health care system contributes carbon footprints that add-up to an increasingly climate change dilemma. Although it is apparent that strategies is needed to reduce harmful effects of carbon dioxide emissions and restoring Earth’s energy balance.


Hence, the study point out that health care significantly contributes to Australia’s total carbon footprints and recognizes major contributors. The role of public health and hospitals are crucial in carbon controlled health care system. Including all fields of medicine, medical associations and colleges will take part in reducing health care carbon footprints. Australian states implement programs to attain carbon neutral status by 2050 however, without baseline data carbon aspiration will be uncertain.


The Lancet Planetary Health  Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages e27-e35