Carbon footprinting and health care systems: issues for sustaining the next 100 years of tropical medicine
Brown, Lawrence H. (2010) Carbon footprinting and health care systems: issues for sustaining the next 100 years of tropical medicine. Papers from the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine. Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine: 100 years of tropical medicine conference , 11-14 June 2010, Townsville, QLD, Australia , p. 66.
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Climate changes associated with global warming are now widely recognized as a threat to human health. Paradoxically, some healthcare activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that are associated with global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions are not solely an environmental matter. Emissions are an indirect indicator of energy consumption, and energy consumption has profound financial implications for healthcare systems. Measuring an activity’s ”carbon footprint” is one strategy available to support the management of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, but determining an activity’s carbon footprint is not a simple task. T his session will review the technical, practical and political issues associated with carbon footprinting, including those associated with accounting for upstream and downstream emissions, using ongoing research examining the carbon footprint of emergency ambulance services in North American as an example. Fifteen diverse North American EMS systems with over 550,000 combined annual responses and serving a population of 6.3 million reported their energy consumption for one year. We calculated total S cope 2 carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions using Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Information Administration and locality specific emission conversion factors. E missions totalled 21,289 metric tons of CO2e; 75% of emissions were from diesel or gasoline. Lessons for other healthcare activities undertaking and utilizing the results of carbon footprinting initiatives will be drawn from this experience. A dditionally, important concepts such as “rebound” and “backfire” of emission mitigation strategies will also be reviewed.
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