Pharma CEOs Take Action on Climate Change

08.11.2022 - The CEOs of seven multinational pharmaceutical companies have announced that they are taking joint action to achieve near-term emissions reduction targets and accelerate the delivery of net zero health systems.

The companies are AstraZeneca, GSK, Roche, Germany’s Merck, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Samsung Biologics.

Their efforts to cut CO2 emissions across supply chains, patient care pathways and clinical trials will be pursued under the umbrella of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) Health Systems Task Force, a public-private partnership that launched last year at COP26.

The CEOs said that while health systems are responding to the impacts of the climate crisis, they are also responsible for 4-5% of total global net emissions, equating to 2.4 gigatons of CO2 equivalent.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot commented: “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.”

The task force will align on a set of common supplier standards to incentivize decarbonization efforts across the supply chain. It has committed to switch to renewable power and jointly evaluate renewable power purchase agreements in China and India in 2023, explore green heat solutions by 2025 to accelerate the adoption of scalable technologies, transition car fleets to zero-emission vehicles by 2030 and examine green transportation corridors by 2025.  

In addition, the CEOs have pledged to build an end-to-end care pathway emissions calculation standard and tool that enables stakeholders to measure and track emissions across the care pathway. The task force will also publish product-level life cycle assessments data to increase transparency on treatment emissions.

With regard to decarbonizing clinical trials, the members have committed to create a common framework to measure emissions by 2023, with companies aiming to report on emissions from Phase 2 and 3 trials starting in 2025.

The task force will also seek to align new trials with companies’ decarbonization programs and set related reduction targets for 2030 at the latest. The members are targeting that, starting in 2025, more than 90% of trials include a review of how digital solutions can reduce emissions.

Along with private sector members, the SMI Health Systems Task Force includes leaders from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, along with healthcare, academic and non-governmental organizations. The grouping is partnering with the WHO-convened Alliance for Transformative Action on Health and Climate (ATACH) to provide recommendations to more than 60 governments that have committed to deliver climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist