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Mercy Health Net Zero Strategy, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia

Carbon footprint methodology decarbonises Australia’s healthcare sector

Mercy Health is a Catholic organisation which provides Health Services, Aged Care and Support Services in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Mercy Health is working towards achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. To chart a robust pathway to achieve the organisation’s ambitious target, Mercy Health needed a comprehensive baseline data set of their greenhouse gas emissions across Scopes 1, 2 and 3.

We partnered with Mercy Health to develop a methodology to identify and calculate the organisations total greenhouse gas emissions. Together, we delivered one of the first detailed emissions footprints for a health and aged care provider in Australia.

Using this data, Mercy Health can now target interventions to achieve their net zero goal. The organisation now leads the Australian healthcare and aged sectors in understanding their climate impact and collaborates with other organisations to share insights.

We continue to partner with Mercy Health and co-present the developed methodology at industry events to inspire others to begin their journey to reduce their carbon footprints. 

This work is informed by Mercy Health’s Caring for People and Planet Strategy (2020-25), the organisation’s response to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (2015), which calls for radical global change and unified action to protect the natural environment.

Project Summary

2030 goal to become net zero

62%of Mercy Health’s emissions were Scope 3

Australian first: calculating healthcare sector greenhouse gas emissions

The most immediate challenge facing Mercy Health was understanding their baseline for decarbonisation. When Mercy Health launched its Caring for People and Planet strategy, there was little industry-specific guidance which could be easily applied to the Australian healthcare organisation to calculate their emissions.

Mercy Health had niche categories of emission sources not included in existing carbon accounting frameworks, including medical gases, metered dose inhalers and clinical waste.  Within the organisation’s operational areas, there was considerable differences in site-based emission profiles, for example, between acute hospitals and aged care facilities.

We worked with Mercy Health over six months to baseline the organisation’s emissions footprint to inform the net zero strategy and decision-making processes. We developed non-standard approaches in accordance with the Australian Government's Climate Active certification protocol to cater for the unique nature of health and aged care institutions. In tandem, with the Mercy Health team, we conducted intensive work to identify all sources of emissions across all three scopes. 

Our new high-touch methodology gathered, tested, and validated data, assumptions and proxies at both the service and facility level. The data showed the largest part of Mercy Health’s carbon emissions, 61.6 per cent, were Scope 3. These emissions include supply chain categories such as catering and pharmaceuticals, and personal travel.

Mercy Health now has an empirical baseline of their emissions, a greater understanding of how to achieve their target, a roadmap to make informed decisions and a replicable foot printing process so that can be utilised to measure progress year on year.

Healthcare emission data can be tricky to calculate. Now we have a robust approach for baselining institutional, service and facility emissions. As one of the first healthcare providers in Australia to do this, Mercy Health is poised to take effective action and achieve their ambitious net zero goal. ” Jessica Hogg Project Manager

Carbon dashboard drives decision making for health facilities

Mercy Health wanted to communicate the impact of its net zero roadmap to the organisation’s board and executive team to help inform discussion and decisions. We funded and built a visualisation dashboard tool to help the organisation’s non-technical stakeholders to clearly understand the benefits of the roadmap. The dashboard uses data insights to demonstrate the effects of interventions on Mercy Health’s carbon emissions. Using this dashboard, Mercy Health can predict how emissions will change if emission reduction interventions are actioned and allows consideration of emissions profiling of different options for pursuit.

The organisation’s board has endorsed the interventions identified as part of the base work for the road map, based on the seven high impact actions for healthcare described in the Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonisation. Mercy Health’s Caring for People and Planet strategy team will use the tool for internal discussions and for assessing and targeting interventions and developing business cases.

Read the perspective Practical ways to decarbonise healthcare to learn how we are helping healthcare organisations to reduce emissions and provide clarity for the future.