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New climate action announced by pharma CEOs

Words by GOLD newsdesk

As COP27 gets underway, seven pharmaceutical companies have announced scalable action to collectively address emissions across supply chains, patient care pathways and clinical trials – three priority areas identified as drivers of the greatest positive impact on climate change in the sector.

CEOs from AstraZeneca, GSK, Merck KGaA, Novo Nordisk, Roche, Samsung Biologics and Sanofi committed to joint action with the overall aim of accelerating net zero healthcare through the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) Health Systems Task Force – a public-private partnership launched at last year’s COP26 summit.

The Task Force, which also includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others, is set to align on a set of common supplier standards to incentivise decarbonisation efforts across the supply chain, and jointly pursue renewable power purchase agreements and green transportation corridors – routes that run only on clean energy – by 2025.

Other commitments include an end-to-end care pathway emissions calculation standard, and a tool that allows stakeholders to measure and track emissions across the care pathway, including for specific diseases, and assess decarbonisation strategies. The establishment of a common framework to measure the emissions from clinical trials and the review of at least nine in 10 trials by 2025 to see if digitisation could reduce emissions are also priorities.

Commenting on the agreement, Pascal Soriot, CEO, AstraZeneca and Champion of the SMI Health Systems Task Force said: “Climate change is the greatest global health threat of our time. During the pandemic, the healthcare sector stepped up and showed what can be achieved when we work together. Today, we act with the same urgency to tackle the climate crisis, with the collective commitments announced by the Sustainable Markets Initiative Health Systems Task Force setting a benchmark for others to drive action.”

According to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, “failing to keep the 1.5°C goal alive will have irreversible impacts on global health”, and decarbonising health systems is therefore “essential” for universal health coverage. What’s more, these commitments “demonstrate the power of public-private partnership to achieve positive and sustainable change for the health of people and the planet,” he added.

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