Skip to main content


Economist Impact White Paper: Do No Harm.

Economist Impact White Paper: Do No Harm.

Economist Impact White Paper: Do No Harm.

Economist Impact White Paper: Do No Harm. Healthcare Professionals Address Sustainability and Climate Change

Focusing on the health impacts of climate change

As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson has a unique ability to apply our expertise and partnering power to help solve some of the most challenging global health issues.  

We understand that human health is inextricably linked to the health of our planet and we are committed to driving improvements across the healthcare system to improve sustainability and protect human and environmental health. That’s why we have sponsored the Economist Impact White Paper – Do No Harm: Healthcare Professionals Address Sustainability and Climate Change.  

By shining a light on the health impacts of climate change, how healthcare professionals are responding to climate change and how we can improve the environmental footprint of healthcare systems, we hope to provide additional insights and education for our company and others about the benefits of climate change action in the healthcare sector. 

Climate change is creating a health emergency


In order to assess the impact of climate change on healthcare, Economist Impact carried out independent research, which was initiated and fully funded by Johnson & Johnson.

The research comprised three phases: firstly, there was literature review of how healthcare systems in France, Germany and the UK are responding to climate change, and the role of healthcare professionals (HCPs) therein. This was followed by a survey of 75 doctors and 75 nurses working in hospitals in France, Germany and the UK in February and March 2022. And finally, Economist Impact interviewed experts from government, hospitals, medical professional associations and NGOs to build on the research and shed light on what the survey discovered.

Among its findings, the research revealed that many HCPs think they need to better prepare patients for the current and future impacts of climate change, as well as adapt their healthcare systems to be more sustainable.

Healthcare professionals and climate change: the findings


Most respondents believe climate change will moderately or significantly affect the physical (62%) and mental (58%) health of their patients.

52% of respondents say those living with chronic conditions are at most risk from climate change, followed by the elderly (41%) and those from lower socioeconomic groups (41%).

13% of respondents saw patients clinically impacted by climate change on a weekly basis in the last year.

24% of respondents expect to see patients clinically impacted by climate change on a weekly basis, in 10 years' time.

Greatest risk comes from heatwaves and air pollution


Hospital doctors and nurses who participated in this research think that heatwaves and air pollution are the major climate change factors contributing to ill health. France, Germany and the UK are susceptible to the extremes of heat, according to a composite score by the Lancet[1], which captures the proportion of older people (65 plus), those living with chronic disease and the share of the population living in urban areas.

As a healthcare company, we believe that Johnson & Johnson exists to change the trajectory of health for humanity. That means we also need to play our part in looking after the health of the planet – becoming a more sustainable company is imperative because climate change is impacting patients, and it makes sense from a business perspective too

Mark Hicken

Vice President of Strategy at Janssen EMEA

Healthcare professionals want to lead change


Healthcare systems protect patients but are also major producers of carbon. Emissions need to be addressed across healthcare s entire value chain. Globally, the healthcare sector is responsible for 4-5% of greenhouse gas emissions; with the EU healthcare sector contributing 4.7% of the EU’s total emissions.[2]

Nearly one-third (31%) of all HCP respondents said that their hospital had a decarbonisation plan, but without a net-zero target date.[2]

Many hospital doctors and nurses want to help hospitals reach net-zero, by educating patients, redesigning clinical pathways or taking a leadership role.[2]

The findings and views expressed in the paper are those of Economist Impact and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Johnson & Johnson. Economist Impact researched and created this white paper and infographic, which was initiated and funded by Johnson & Johnson. Economist Impact retained full editorial control, and Johnson & Johnson reviewed the material for compliance with relevant regulations.

Read the report


Learn more about Healthcare’s carbon footprint, decarbonisation priorities, the climate crisis’s impact on HCP morale, how we created this report, and much more.

Go to the report