World Environment Day 2022 – Report on RACGP work on environmental sustainability


The RACGP has recently taken a range of actions to promote, enable, and implement environmental sustainability.  This work has been focused both internally and externally and has engaged with teams across the College.  This summary pulls these actions together so that everyone can see the full picture of the work we’re doing.

A lot of this work has been driven or supported by RACGP Specific Interests Climate and Environmental Medicine.  This group was formed in 2015, and in the last 7 years this group has grown to more than 1200 RACGP members, who have provided advice, recommendations, and ideas, along with their time and expertise, to drive forward this work.

For our members

General practice tool kit

The RACGP general practice business tool kit includes information actions to minimise the environmental footprint that general practice creates.  This resource will help GPs and their practice reduce their environmental impact while improving outcomes for patients and staff. It provides information on:  

  • climate change and its impacts on human health 
  • the role of GPs and practice staff relating to addressing climate change and environmental sustainability 
  • actions at an individual, practice and population level to minimise the carbon footprint (both clinical and non-clinical) such as reducing energy consumption, prescribing decisions and advocating on behalf of patients for effective climate change policy and action.

Practice posters

The RACGP Climate and Environmental Medicine Specific Interests Group collaborated with the Sydney North PHN to develop a series of print-ready posters for GP practice waiting rooms, alerting patients to the impact climate change can have on their physical and mental health.

Webinars on the impacts of climate change

  • In September 2021 the RACGP took part in a webinar led by the AMA and DEA which asked the medical colleges to discuss the work they were doing in this space.
  • Two webinars were developed and delivered in September and December 2021, one focusing on the Health Impacts of Climate Change, and the second on Climate Change and Rural Health.

Standards and Accreditation

The RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC-SGP) is considering whether an element of a practice’s environmental sustainability could be included in a future edition of the Standards.

RACGPSI Climate and Environmental Medicine

The Climate and Environmental Medicine Specific Interest group (CEM-SIG) is a place for GPs interested in this area to connect, network, discuss key issues, gain education, and plan actions, including advocacy work. Members can join here or through the Facebook group.

Advocacy work

Position Statement

The RACGP’s position statement on climate change and human health was published in 2019 and will be reviewed and updated this year.  The statement summarises the RACGP position as follows:

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP):

  • recognises climate change as a key public health issue
  • commits to mitigation and adaptation strategies as an organisation and promoting and advocating for these among general practitioners (GPs), healthcare organisations and the community
  • advocates for policies to protect human health from risks of climate change at local, state, national and international government levels
  • considers it important for GPs to understand and communicate the causes, health risks and consequences of climate change as well as mitigating actions and adaptation to climate change at individual and population levels
  • emphasises the importance of general practice research to inform RACGP and GP responses to climate change and its impact on human health.

RACP’s report into Climate Change and Australia’s Healthcare Systems

In November 2021 the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) launched a new research report Climate Change and Australia’s Healthcare Systems – A Review of Literature, Policy and Practice. The RACGP was involved in the development of this work through our position on the report’s advisory committee. 

Health Climate Future campaign

Ten medical colleges, including the RACGP, came together in the lead up to the 2022 federal election to call for a climate ready and climate friendly healthcare system.  Find more information about the campaign.

Letters to national leaders

Within the RACGP

Sustainability Officer

The RACGP Board approved a Sustainability Leader role which now sits under the Chief of Staff responsibilities.  The Sustainability Leader is accountable for overseeing the development and implementation of sustainability strategies across the RACGP. The role will determine, educate, advocate for and lead improvements within the business and the wider general practice industry.

Divesting from fossil fuels

The RACGP introduced an environmental and social governance investment policy in 2018 to provide a set of guiding principles for the college’s investment portfolio, resulting in divestment across a number of investments. 

Commitment to net zero emissions

In November 2021 the RACGP committed to a target of net zero emissions by 2040.  This was part of a series of measures agreed by the Board as part of a larger discussion on Environmental and Social Governance.  An interim target is embedded in the 2022/25 Operating Plan.

RACGP Green Team

This RACGP staff workplace group provides a place for interested staff members to share ideas, articles, and actions. It’s also a place for the RACGP leadership to engage with staff on the actions the College is taking.

Lunch and Learn for RACGP Staff

In November 2021 we held a lunch and learn for RACGP staff on the topic ‘What are the Health Impacts of Climate Change?’ The session was led by members of the RACGP Climate and Environmental Medicine SI group with an update from the RACGP Chief Operating Officer on the actions the RACGP was taking.