Time for change: EU energy efficiency and renewable energy targets

Time for change: EU energy efficiency and renewable energy targets
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An urgent call for more ambitious EU energy efficiency and renewable energy targets is set by Leading European Healthcare Institutions.

The European Health Care Climate Council (EHCC), encompassing Europe’s leading coalition of hospitals and health systems, is committed to strengthening the health sector’s response to climate change. The EHCC is calling on stakeholders across all sectors to wake up, take charge and participate in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, improving energy efficiency and surpassing previous renewable energy targets.

Greatest global health opportunity

The human health is being negatively impacted by climate change, and this is not only affecting communities today but is set to also adversely affect future generations.

An increasing number of healthcare organisations around the world already recognise this issue and are showing leadership in reducing their own carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing emissions along their supply chains through innovation.

Healthcare institutions, as purchasers of huge amounts of goods and services, have the power to influence their spending power and accelerate the evolution of a low-carbon economy.

During the recent Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, USA, 18 healthcare institutions from across the globe affirmed their commitment to 100% renewable electricity. Representing more than 1,200 hospitals, these institutions jointly care for over 23 million patients per year at facilities powered by 3.3 billion kilowatt hours of renewable electricity.

By committing to energy efficiency, they will have reduced their aggregate annual greenhouse gas emissions by over 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e), which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 214,133 cars.

We need stronger renewable energy targets

Despite the strong commitment, there is more to be done. Observing impacts from the current warming levels, the EHCC concludes that even if warming is limited to 1.5°C, globally there will still be unavoidable impacts and potential tipping points leading to irreversible damage and devastating consequences.

Improving energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy throughout the supply chain can significantly lower reliance on fossil fuels. As by doing so harmful emissions are reduced, which contribute to undernutrition, respiratory and heart diseases, vector-borne disease, and impact mental health.

To achieve the ambition of both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, together with the global community, the EU must accelerate action to protect the health of the current global community and that of future generations.

Policies must also be developed that make it possible (and mandatory) for hospitals and health systems to contribute in mitigating this global environmental and health challenge.

Catastrophic consequences

Without political action and increased ambition, the effects of climate change will be catastrophic; leading to increased incidence of illness and injuries, mass migration, and worsening health inequities.

Climate action will protect both human health and the environment – increased EU ambition for energy efficiency and renewable energy targets will most definitely drive this action.

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