Norway launches climate commitments in the health field

During the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, COP26, Norway has today joined the Climate Conference’s Health Programme. The Health Programme has launched several measures to strengthen health systems to enable them to tackle climate change. The Health Programme also encourages countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the health sector.

“The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. Today’s commitments represent an important contribution to protecting the health of the Norwegian population and at the same time achieving the goals in the Paris Agreement”, says Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.

In order to tackle climate change, we need to have a solid knowledge base. The Ministry of Health and Care Services will take the initiative for a national analysis of vulnerabilities and adaptation needs relating to climate change and health. The goal is to complete the work already by the end of 2022.  

An expanded evaluation will also be conducted regarding the status of greenhouse gas emissions from the health sector. The goal is to establish a roadmap, tentatively by 2023. This roadmap will set the course for a sustainable low-emission health sector by 2050 and net-zero operations in the health trusts by 2045, in line with the climate efforts in the regional health trusts.

The Norwegian Government has a goal to cut 55 per cent of Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels, by 2030. It is estimated that in 2018, the health sector was responsible for up to five per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Health Organization has determined that climate change is the greatest threat to health we are facing. Norway’s population is generally in good health and in this respect we are relatively well equipped to face the effects of climate change. However, increased precipitation, heatwaves and droughts will impact our health. 

Climate change may affect the physical and mental health of the population in several ways; from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, allergies, casualties and fatalities related to extreme weather events, to changes in prevalence and geographical distribution of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.

For several years, the Norwegian business sector and public administration, including the hospitals, have worked to create awareness regarding own emissions and reduce its carbon footprint. Today’s commitments build upon the good work that has already been done in the sector.