Operation Zero

At HCWH Europe, it is our vision that every European country develops a national decarbonisation plan for its healthcare sector. To support this, we have established Operation Zero, a groundbreaking project that aims to put the European healthcare sector on the path to net zero CO2 emissions, in line with European and international climate commitments.


In 2019, and in partnership with Arup, HCWH published Health Care’s Climate Footprint – the most comprehensive estimate of healthcare’s global climate footprint. Setting out the healthcare climate footprints of 43 different countries from around the globe, this report highlights the scale of the challenge. As a whole, the healthcare sector’s climate footprint is equivalent to 4.4% of global net emissions; if it were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter in the world. The European Union is the third largest contributor to global healthcare emissions (behind the US and China), accounting for 12% of global healthcare emissions.

With these challenges comes opportunity. There are opportunities for the sector to lead by example, for health professionals to use their trusted voices to educate on the health impacts of climate change and advocate for change, and for the sector to leverage its purchasing power (10% of GDP in Europe) to influence changes within the supply chain. 

Health Care’s Climate Footprint described the problem - Operation Zero aims to provide the solution.


  1. Produce the most comprehensive overview of the European healthcare sector’s carbon footprint to date, highlighting priority carbon hotspots and common opportunities for reduction across the sector. 
  2. Develop a new framework that can be applied by any national healthcare system that supports the production of national decarbonisation roadmaps to net zero emissions for healthcare, piloted in four European countries.

Project information

Operation Zero is split into two work packages (WPs):

WP1: European Technical Analysis

HCWH Europe will produce a technical analysis for the European healthcare sector, which aims to provide an overview of healthcare emissions in Europe including potential hotspots to prioritise at a Europe-wide level, and set out some common actions that can be taken to reduce emissions.

WP2: A framework document and 4 national healthcare decarbonisation roadmaps

HCWH Europe will develop a framework that will guide/support national governments/health systems and other organisations in developing a roadmap for the decarbonisation of their own healthcare system, while supporting system resilience and improving health outcomes. 

We will partner with four national health ministries/health systems to pilot this framework, supporting participants to generate their own detailed climate footprint analysis and decarbonisation roadmaps. Through these pilots, we will gain valuable feedback into the practicalities and limitations of developing national and/or subnational decarbonisation roadmaps, and plans that will help to build a more robust framework and ultimately drive action.


Call for partners

HCWH Europe is now seeking expressions of interest from national health systems to join Operation Zero as pathfinder systems, who will take an active role in developing and piloting this new framework by creating national decarbonisation roadmaps for healthcare in their respective countries. You can find more information in terms of the benefits and commitment expected from these health systems in the resources below.

If you are interested in joining Operation Zero as a pathfinder system, please submit an initial Expression of Interest to Scott Brady, Climate Programme Manager at HCWH Europe.

Whilst we welcome Expressions of Interest from any country within the WHO Europe region, we are particularly interested to explore opportunities with the following countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland.



HCWH Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the European Commission (EC)’s LIFE programme, the IKEA Foundation and Skoll FoundationHCWH Europe is solely responsible for the content of this project and related materials. The views expressed do not reflect the official views of the EC, IKEA or Skoll.