First plan for the reduction of the carbon footprint in the health sector in Spain

The acting Minister of Health has inaugurated the High-Level Meeting (RAN) ‘Impact of the health sector on climate change: Carbon footprint in health centres’, within the agenda of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The acting Minister of Health, José Miñones, has advanced the development of the first Plan for the Reduction of the Carbon Footprint in the health sector of our country, with the intention of collaborating to stop the “serious threat to health” posed by climate change.

This new plan, Miñones explained, will have a guide of recommendations that will be presented soon and will take as a starting point the study on consumption and emissions from health centres that is being carried out by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities.

A study that will serve to calculate, for the first time in the history of our country, the carbon footprint of the Health Service (SNS) and that will make it possible to identify the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and understand the needs of the National Health System.

All of this, Miñones has argued, with the intention of Spain leading the health decarbonisation process in Europe, as a priority in the face of climate change, given the role of “active emitter” of the health sector, responsible for approximately 4.4% of net global emissions.

As José Miñones recalled, these initiatives are part of the 2022-2023 Action Program of the Strategic Health and Environment Plan (PESMA), “a pioneering roadmap in our country that has already become a reference document at the national level.

A plan, he explained, that includes a total of 14 areas with guidelines to advance against environmental risks through the promotion of healthy environments or the identification of new threats derived from environmental factors, especially in the most vulnerable population.

Along these same lines and, also within the PESMA, the Government of Spain has recently launched the Health and Climate Change Observatory (OSCC), which will allow it to continue promoting actions that prioritize health and climate action, in coordination with the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

In short, Miñones has highlighted, a broad package of measures that positions Spain as “a benchmark at the European level” and that, hand in hand with the ‘One Health’ approach, is part of the reforms necessary to confront climate change from the healthcare sector.

Achieving the goal of climate neutrality

In this context, the acting Minister of Health has also defended the need to provide the health of the European Union with a broader approach that contributes to the objective of achieving climate neutrality, the main point on the community agenda, as recognised the European Green Deal.

An approach that includes the new realities associated with climate change and the close relationship between animal health, environmental health and human health.

José Miñones has stressed that the European Climate Legislation converts the political ambition of achieving climate neutrality into a legal obligation for the EU, an obligation that also applies to the health sector.

“It is our responsibility, both because of our role as an active issuer and because of the large number of measures that we can lead from the health field,” he stressed.

Also participating in the event were Juan José Pedreño, Minister of Health of the Region of Murcia; the director of the Department of Public Health and Environment of the World Health Organisation (WHO), María Neira; the Government delegate in the Region of Murcia, Francisco Jiménez; the undersecretary for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Miguel Ángel González Suela; the director of the National Institute of Health Management (INGESA), Belén Hernando; the general director of Public Health, Pilar Aparicio; and the undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, Octavio Rivera Atienza.