Climate change and health

The HSE Climate Action Strategy 2023 -2050 (PDF, 1.4 MB, 64 pages) aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and provide healthcare that is environmentally and socially sustainable. We have obligations to achieve this under the government's climate action plans.

To show leadership and commitment we should integrate sustainability into our:

  • sustainable buildings and the green environment
  • transport and mobility
  • sustainable procurement
  • greener models of healthcare
  • water and waste management
  • adaptation and resilience (increasing resilience of critical infrastructure and resources)

More information on our climate action priority areas

To implement our strategy on reducing our carbon footprint we will collaborate and work together with:

  • staff
  • public sector colleagues
  • patients
  • partners
  • communities

Our strategy implementation involves embedding sustainability into our ways of working. We will provide support, guidance, tools, and track improvement measures to help achieve this.

Things you can do

At work

  • save energy
  • turn off non-essential equipment like computers, photocopiers and appliances over lunch breaks, nights and weekends if not needed
  • make best use of daylight and turn off lights in unused rooms and corridors when not needed and safe to do so
  • dress for building temperature, avoiding the need for personal heating or cooling appliances
  • print only when necessary using recycled FSC paper, printing double sided and in grey scale
  • think about having plants or developing a green space

On the move

  • avoid unnecessary travel
  • switch your mode of transport from cars to walking, cycling, or public transport
  • car pool with colleagues to reduce your car travel footprint
  • use the cycle to work scheme
  • use Teams for meetings where appropriate

Ordering materials or services

  • reduce, reuse, recycle
  • switch from using disposable to reusable products
  • share ideas for more sustainable products with your local management
  • consider the possibility of reducing or reusing your equipment
  • take into account the necessity, packaging, and environmental impact when requesting supplies

Water and waste

  • go plastic free and use reusable cups, glasses and dishes
  • if you must use disposable items ensure they are biodegradable or compostable
  • use a 'keep cup' or water bottle and ask for water dispensers to allow staff to fill their bottles
  • bin it right - check the bin label and separate waste appropriately
  • go binless in your office
  • every drop counts - be conscious of your water usage and only use what’s necessary
  • healthcare waste awareness - potential health hazards should be disposed of properly

Healthcare models

  • be an active promoter for healthy living
  • reuse clinical and medical products when safe to do so
  • consider environmental impact of medications
  • use online meetings and consultations

Adaptation and resilience

  • learn about the health impact of climate change on your service quality and safety
  • has your service been affected by severe weather events, for example, flooding, power loss, indoor overheating?
  • has your service adapted effectively to protect the health of your patients and staff
  • speak to colleagues about concerns and how to take positive action

Impacts of climate change on health 

Climate change in Ireland is consistent with global patterns. The potential impacts of climate change on health are expected to become more severe. Health risks related to climate change vary based on location, but in Ireland the main changes are likely to be:

Rise in heatwave-related health impacts

This includes:

  • melanoma
  • non-melanoma skin cancers
  • damage to eyes
  • asthma attacks
  • COPD

Rise in flood and storm-related health impacts

This includes:

  • disruption to essential healthcare and emergency services
  • increased injuries and deaths
  • hypothermia
  • infectious diseases

Changes in patterns of food-borne disease

This includes

  • more parasites and enteric viruses in food
  • rotavirus infections

Rise in waterborne diseases

This includes more infections through water-borne organisms and pathogens such as cholera.

Rise in respiratory diseases

Respiratory diseases result in more premature deaths because of high levels of ozone exposure. There may be an increase in deaths because of toxic air pollution from wildfires. An increased number of infections associated with aeroallergens may occur.

Living in a more sustainable way and using resources wisely can help protect us from these issues.

Related documents

HSE Capital & Estates Climate Action and Sustainability Office - Climate Action Calendar 2024 -

Climate action plan 2023 -
Roadmap for taking decisive action to halve our emissions by 2030 and reach net zero no later than 2050.

HSE Infrastructure decarbonisation roadmap (PDF, size 4.6 MB, 43 pages)
Roadmap sets out the approach and actions to achieve the government's climate action plan and targets to 2030 and 2050. These include achieving a 51% absolute reduction in energy related green house gas emissions by 2030; 50% energy efficiency improvement by 2030 and net zero no later than 2050.

Climate change adaptation plan for the health sector (2019 – 2024) -
Plan identifying the main climate change impacts we expect to face in the health sector and how we can build resilience and reduce our vulnerabilities.

Climate Action campaign poster (PDF, 72 KB, 1 page)