How the laboratory industry can tackle carbon emissions when developing drugs
This year, the NHS became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation. Its goal of achieving net zero by 2040, however, is challenging when every stage of the pharmaceutical supply chain has a carbon footprint – from packaging pills to active pharmaceutical ingredient development.
To identify the best route towards net-zero emissions, the NHS established an NHS Net Zero Expert Panel, which reviewed around 600 pieces of evidence and used it to conduct extensive analysis and modelling. Two targets were created as a result of this analysis. For the emissions that the NHS controls directly, the aim is to reach net zero by 2040 with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2028-2032.For emissions that the NHS influences, the aim is to reach net zero by 2045 with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2036-2039.
One suggestion the NHS has made in its Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service report is to focus on interventions in medicine, which accounts for 25% of emissions within the NHS. These emissions are primarily caused by anaesthetics gases (2% of emissions) and inhalers (3% of emissions) that occur at the point of use. The remaining 20% of emissions were found within the supply chain from manufacturing to transportation.
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