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Health Emissions, Too

Hospitals and the healthcare industry emit a high level — nearly five percent — of greenhouse gasses, and the New York Times reports that more than 40 countries have now agreed to cut emissions across their healthcare systems.

The World Health Organization says nearly 50 countries, including the US, UK, and Germany, as well as Cape Verde, Indonesia, and the Maldives have joined the COP26 Health Program that aims to build climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems.

According to the Times, 42 countries have pledged to lower their health system-related greenhouse gas emissions, and a dozen say they will become net zero carbon emitters by 2050. It adds that the US has promised to reduce emissions at federal healthcare facilities and notes that 19 private systems have made similar promises.

"The future of health must be built on health systems that are resilient to the impacts of epidemics, pandemics, and other emergencies, but also to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and the increasing burden of various diseases related to air pollution and our warming planet," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, says in a statement. "Health systems must also be part of the solution, by reducing carbon emissions."