News & Media Media Releases AMA and DEA Make Joint Call for Emissions Reduction in Healthcare

AMA and DEA Make Joint Call for Emissions Reduction in Healthcare

AMA and DEA Make Joint Call for Emissions Reduction in Healthcare

AMA and Doctors for the Environment

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA)
are today calling on the Australian healthcare sector to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero
by 2040, with an interim emission reduction target of 80 per cent by 2030.

Climate change is a health emergency, which is already contributing to life-threatening illness
and deaths and the Australian healthcare sector is part of the problem – contributing about 7
per cent to Australia’s national carbon emission footprint.

Presently there is no coordinated approach in Australia across different jurisdictions to address
and decrease emissions from the healthcare sector. A key recommendation of the AMA and
DEA is for the Australian Government to establish a national sustainability unit for healthcare
to reach the net zero emissions by 2040.

Such a unit would conduct regular and consistent monitoring of national healthcare carbon
emissions along with other indicators of environmental impact to help ensure sustainable, high
quality care with less waste, a greater focus on disease prevention, and more efficient

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said, “Transitioning to more environmentally-sustainable
practices in the health sector is absolutely critical.

“Sustainable practices are proven to provide health benefits for patients and reduce operational

“Having clear emission-reduction targets is necessary to ensure an action-oriented and
ambitious approach,” he said.

Spokesperson for DEA Dr Eugenie Kayak says, “Every sector must play its part to reduce
carbon emissions, and the healthcare sector, guided by the principle to ‘first, do no harm’, has
an added duty to lead and take action to protect health.

“The Australian healthcare sector must be part of the solution and urgently reduce its carbon
footprint in line with the science, to limit global warming, and to get its own house in order,”
she said.

The widespread health harms from climate change are profound and impact all Australians and
health services. To meet the Paris Agreement target of a 1.5 degrees celsius global temperature rise, overall
greenhouse gas emissions need to decrease by 7.6 per cent each year over the next decade.
The AMA and DEA have recommended several actions to enable emissions reduction in the
healthcare sector:

  • the establishment of a national sustainable healthcare units;
  • the prioritisation of prevention, primary care and sustainable models of care; and 2
  • the procurement of medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and goods with low carbon
  • footprints, and reduction in travel emissions through telemedicine and electric vehicle fleets.

Further recommendations made by DEA are outlined in DEA’s report, Net zero carbon
emissions: responsibilities, pathways and opportunities for Australia’s healthcare sector,


  • 100 per cent renewable electricity and no new gas installations in Australian hospitals; and
  • the establishment of a national net zero expert panel to assist in guiding interim emission reduction targets and pathways for the healthcare sector.

By leading emission reduction targets, the Australian healthcare sector can also influence other
industries and sectors to adopt sustainable practices.

“Whole-of-society sustainable practices will lessen the widespread impacts that climate change
is having on patient health – in Australia and globally,” said Dr Kayak.


  • The health sector has a huge opportunity to stop contributing to global warming. It has large purchasing power through how it procures energy, chooses goods and service and travel options.
  • There are also additional health benefits from low carbon energy, transport and dietary choices – such as decreased air pollution and increased physical activity and reduced diet-related illnesses.
  • A sustainable healthcare unit would assist the healthcare sector to deliver quality healthcare in environmentally and financially sustainable ways, including:
  • Co-ordinating targeted measurement of the healthcare sector’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.
  • Analysing trends, benchmarking and assessment of carbon reduction strategies within clinical pathways, organisational processes, technology advancements and purchasing / manufacturing.
  • Leading and co-ordinating research, policy development, system changes and staff engagement to maximise effectiveness and successful implementation of initiatives at state, regional, health network, hospital and practice levels.


You can access a PDF version of the joint statement from the Australian Medical Association and Doctors for the Environment Australia here.

DEA reports:

Net zero carbon emissions: responsibilities, pathways and opportunities for Australia’s healthcare sector

An Australian Healthcare Sustainability Unit (HSU) DEA Proposal

Selected media

Health sector can save lives by reducing its carbon footprint, op-ed by Kate Charlesworth

Health care must be part of climate change solution, recent article by Dr Eugenie Kayak and Hayden Burch in MJA Insight+

Healthcare emissions ‘hurt own patients’,

Climate Council Welcomes Call For Net Zero Health Sector -media release

To find out more about DEA’s work on Sustainable Healthcare, visit here

AMA’s Position Statement on Environmental Sustainability in Health Care – 2019

Media contacts

AMA Media 0427 209 753

DEA Media 0410 703 07