A $3.8 billion plan is required to meet the goal of decarbonizing the health care network by 2040, according to a new report from the firm Dunsky Energy + Climate.
The Quebec government has adopted a goal of zero direct greenhouse gas emissions for state buildings and the entire fleet of institutional vehicles by 2040, and the report presented Tuesday aims to be a “turnkey” brochure for the decarbonisation of the healthcare system.
It is aimed at buildings, vehicles and indirect emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).
The report, commissioned by the Association for Public Health of Quebec (ASPQ) and funded by the Trottier Family Foundation, proposes, among other things, to decarbonize buildings by introducing energy-saving measures, in particular by recovering waste heat from hospitals
The recovery of residual heat from medical equipment and ambient air is a key measure of the plan which highlights that it is possible to reduce heating needs by 57% and hot water by 28%, through modifications to distribution networks heat and ventilation systems.
“Heat recovery reduces the investment needed in geothermal and heat pump equipment to replace natural gas by $540 million,” according to the report.
It is also recommended to promote the installation of efficient electric heating systems, mainly geothermal.
It is also necessary to reduce energy demand by installing light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, according to the firm Dunsky, which emphasizes that “lighting is the second source of electricity consumption after equipment ancillaries (such as medical devices)”.
According to the authors of the report, the decarbonization of buildings could, over time, allow energy savings of about 571 million dollars.
The plan also suggests replacing combustion vehicles at the end of their useful lives and starting to electrify ambulances by 2024, in order to achieve a fleet of “zero direct emissions” vehicles by 2040.
Electrifying the vehicle fleet could save an estimated $216 million.
More specifically, the electrification of vehicles would generate savings of “80% in energy costs and 50% in maintenance costs compared to combustion vehicles”.
It would also be possible to eliminate GHGs caused by the use of medical gases by replacing these “high carbon impact gases” such as anesthetic gases, inhalant gases and refrigerant gases by “adopting medical practices to reduce carbon footprint”.
The cost of inaction would be “higher”
According to the study, the healthcare sector currently emits 3.6% of the province’s total GHG emissions, the equivalent of 2.74 million tonnes of GHG.
Hospitals and other buildings in the network account for, again according to the Dunsky firm, “65% of emissions from state buildings.”
These GHG emissions are not only harmful to the climate, but also to people’s health, recalled the family doctor and president of the Association of Doctors for the Environment of Quebec (AQME), Clodel Pétrin-Dérosiers .
He made it clear that the decarbonisation of the healthcare network would have a direct impact on the health of Quebecers and on the costs linked to the healthcare network.
“When we integrate the health benefits we get in terms of reduced deaths, reduced morbidity and therefore reduced disease, the investment is profitable,” because “air pollution is $30 billion a year in health care “, emphasized the doctor.
Health Canada estimated in 2016 that the total economic cost of all health impacts of air pollution was $120 billion annually to the country.
Clodel Pétrin-Dérosier argues that doctors who get involved in AQME “are motivated to offer care that responds to the climate emergency, therefore care that does not harm people.”
He added that “if we want to be consistent with the first oath we take as a doctor, which is not to harm patients, the health network must do its part” and decarbonize.
The Dunsky firm estimates that the cost of inaction “is about $5 billion by 2050, or $3.4 billion in the social cost of carbon and $1.5 billion in lost potential savings.”
Consultant Audrey Yank of the firm Dunsky clarified that “the social cost of carbon takes into account the cost of all the social impacts associated with GHGs, such as the risks of the physical impacts of climate change, the effects on human health and the infrastructure.
Thomas Bastien, general director of the ASPQ, has indicated that the report has been presented to the Ministry of Environment and Health and that “other meetings” are planned.
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