Environmental Sustainability Policy

1. Introduction
2. Purpose
3. Scope
4. Policy
5. Roles and responsibilities
6. Review of policy
7. Definitions
8. History

1. Introduction

1. The RACP recognises that climate change is a health emergency, which is already contributing to life-threatening illness and deaths globally. The healthcare sector is part of the problem – contributing about seven per cent to Australia’s national carbon emission footprint1, and between three and eight per cent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Carbon emissions can be grouped into three classes or scopes2:

Diagram of 3 scopes of Carbon Emission

GHG Protocol, Scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Adapted by CompareYourFootprint.Com

3. The emissions of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) are predominantly in scopes 2 and 3.

Scope 2 Scope 3
Electricity across multiple sites in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand Travel
Waste management

4. In 2016 the RACP issued three position statements on climate change and healthcare, and in 2021 commissioned the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Climate and Health Alliance, Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health to produce a report on the risks of climate change to Australian healthcare systems and how best to manage these risks. An advisory committee with representatives from nine other medical colleges guided the project, contributing knowledge and expertise from a diverse range of specialties.

5. The RACP aspires to improve the health of the community by minimising its impact on our environment.

1 The carbon footprint of Australian health care — Malet, Lenzen, Macalister & Forbes, Lancet, January 2018
2 Net zero carbon emissions: responsibilities, pathways, and opportunities for Australia’s healthcare sector (PDF) — Doctors for the Environment Australia, December 2020

2. Purpose

1. The RACP values the connection of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Māori people to land, sea, sky and community and their custodianship of the environment and is committed to partner, resource, and embed Indigenous knowledge and ways to accelerate culturally safe change, to achieve equitable Indigenous futures in the process of developing robust and documented systems to implement, measure, monitor, and disseminate excellent environmental performance.

2. This policy aims to

  1. integrate environmental sustainability into all RACP activities and establish and promote sound environmental practice in our operations;
  2. highlight the RACP’s commitment to protecting the environment the health of the community by being environmentally responsible as part of its calls for a transition to net zero emissions across all sectors including healthcare. 

3. Scope

1. This policy applies to all College Fellows, trainees, employees, and consultants across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

4. Policy

The RACP commits to minimising its impact on the environment through:

4.1. Management, monitoring and reporting

1. Implementing a systematic approach to environmental management consistent with the international environmental management system standard ISO 14001 and which covers planning, support, operation, evaluation, and continuous improvement in environmental management processes.

2. Conducting rigorous audits, evaluations, and self-assessments of the implementation of this policy.

3. Annual reporting on the implementation of this policy.

4.2. Operations

1. Taking a 'cradle to grave' approach to environmental sustainability, building in consideration of the sustainability of the manufacture, use, and disposal of products in the RACP’s operations.

2. Reducing transport emissions by facilitating online meetings where possible within the requirements of the RACP Meetings of College Bodies Policy and encouraging active use of public transport.

3. Shifting to 100% clean, renewable energy at all sites across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand by 2040.

4. Promoting energy efficiency, zero emissions and climate resilience in the fit-out and management of buildings owned by and facilities leased by the RACP.

5. Conserving water at all sites across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

6. Managing our investments in an ethical and sustainable manner, with regard for the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) ratings of the organisations in which we invest.

7. Reviewing the environmental impact of existing suppliers and their products, and including ESG performance as a criterion in the procurement process.

8. Moving towards zero waste at all sites across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand as soon as practicable.

9. Sharing information, fostering participation, and building relationships for common goals and committing to setting up systems and programs of work that support and motivate employees and members to engage in environmental sustainability initiatives.

10. Providing a safe and healthy workplace in an environmentally sustainably manner.

4.3. Education, Policy, and Research

1. Informing, and educating trainees and Fellows of the RACP about the environmental impact of healthcare, such as the carbon cost of medicines, investigations, and procedures, and net zero models of care.

2. Advocating for health equity and recognition that climate change is a major contributor to current and future health inequities and that acting on climate change presents an opportunity to contribute to improving community health and reducing health inequities.

3. Advocating for:

  1. continued support and funding for a National Climate Change and Health Strategy
  2. a plan for equitably decarbonising healthcare to achieve net zero emissions in healthcare by 2040
  3. the establishment and continued support and funding of Healthcare Sustainability Units across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

4. Maintaining a strong climate change advocacy and engagement capability.

5. Commissioning and supporting, research and innovation in the reducing the environmental impact of healthcare and harnessing related health benefits.

5. Roles and responsibilities

5.1. Board of Directors

1. Governance of the College and promotion of the College’s interests by:

  1. setting the ‘tone at the top’ and championing the College’s Environmental, Social, and Governance positions and encouraging the right attitude to environmental sustainability amongst Fellows, trainees, and employees
  2. setting and monitoring of the College’s performance against environmental sustainability targets
  3. allocating the priority of environmental management processes amongst the overall strategic and operational priorities of the RACP
5.2. Chief Executive Officer

1. Implementing a sound system of Environmental, Social, and Governance processes that, in all material respects, implement the policies adopted by the Board.

2. Ensuring that the Environmental Sustainability policy and processes are understood, adopted, complied with, and effective at all levels of the College.

3. Assigning and accepting ownership of environmental targets and initiatives.

4. Ensuring that the RACP Annual Report contains the reports and disclosures to which the Board commits. 

5.3. Senior Leadership Team

1. Ensuring that the RACP:

  1. develops and implements
    1. a systematic approach to environmental management which covers planning, support, operation, evaluation, and continuous improvement in environmental management
    2. clear and consistent communications and FAQ to provide RACP members and employees
  2. has appropriate expertise amongst employees and College bodies to implement this policy.

6. Review of policy

This policy will be reviewed every three years or as required.

Staff and members of the College may provide feedback about this document by emailing RACPPolicy@racp.edu.au

7. Definitions

Term Meaning
'Board' The Board of Directors of the College.
'Clean renewable energy' Energy derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed. This does not include energy produced by burning native forest biomass products.
'College' The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, ACN 000 039 047, an incorporated body limited by guarantee.
'College Body'
  • the council of each Division or Faculty of the College
  • the committee of each Chapter formed within a Division or Faculty
  • each Board committee
  • each committee, sub-committee, working group, expert advisory group, or other sub-group formed under the auspices of any of the above, whether limited in time or purpose
'ESG' Environmental and social governance.
'Fellow', 'Trainee' and 'Member'
Have the same meaning as in the College Constitution.
'Volunteer' A member of the community who serves on a College Body. 
'Zero Waste' The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

8. History

Revision Effective date Summary of changes Policy Writer/s
1.0 1 February 2023 First approved Risk and Compliance Manager
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