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Climate change commitments of leading pharmaceutical companies and their implications for the supply chain

This research presents the climate change commitments of pharmaceutical companies, their progress in meeting these commitments, and the strategies they are using to reduce their emissions.

Published onOct 23, 2022
Climate change commitments of leading pharmaceutical companies and their implications for the supply chain

Objectives: Healthcare systems contribute to approximately 5% of national carbon footprints, with up to 55% of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributable to the pharmaceutical industry and its supply chain. This study aimed to determine which leading pharmaceutical companies have made commitments to climate change targets, and what implications these have for pharmaceutical suppliers.

Methods: Content analysis was performed of the most recent (2020 or 2021) publicly available company reports of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies, by 2020 prescription revenue. Using a pre-formulated data extraction table, data on climate change targets and strategies were extracted. Proportions of companies that made commitments to net zero, carbon neutrality and GHG emission reductions across their own operations and supply chain were determined. 

Results: All companies engaged in environmental reporting. Nineteen (95%) of the companies have committed to climate change targets and reducing GHG emissions in their operations, 50% have committed to carbon neutrality and 40% to net zero emissions by a range of target years. Moreover, 90% of companies have committed to improving reporting and reducing emissions across their supply chain. Actions that companies are undertaking to reduce their supply chain emissions include engaging with suppliers to set climate change targets, including environmental sustainability in vendor selection criteria, and specific projects such as assisting suppliers to purchase renewable energy.

Conclusions: Pharmaceutical companies are engaging with environmental issues. Collaboration between companies and suppliers, including publications and communications providers, will increasingly require novel solutions for the delivery of a lower carbon, sustainable future

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