Implementing climate change mitigation in health services: the importance of context

J Health Serv Res Policy. 2016 Oct;21(4):257-62. doi: 10.1177/1355819616645373. Epub 2016 Apr 19.


Academic interest in strategies to reduce the impact of health services on climate change is quickening. Research has largely focused on local innovations with little consideration of the contextual and systemic elements that influence sustainable development across health systems. A realistic framework specifically to guide decision-making by health care providers is still needed. To address this deficit, the literature is explored in relation to health services and climate change mitigation strategies, and the contextual factors that influence efforts to mitigate climate effects in health service delivery environments are highlighted. A conceptual framework is proposed that offers a model for the pursuit of sustainable development practice in health services. A set of propositions is advanced to provide a systems approach to assist decision-making by decoding the challenges faced in implementing sustainable health services. This has important implications for health care providers, funders and legislators since the financial, policy and regulatory environment of health care, along with its leadership and models of care generally conflict with carbon literacy and climate change mitigation strategies.

Keywords: climate change; health service; mitigation; sustainable development.

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Services*
  • Humans