Environmental sustainability in general practice

The carbon footprint of general practice

Last revised: 12 Jul 2022

The RACGP recognises GPs play a key role in identifying, reducing and managing the adverse health effects of climate change. (7)

We lack data on the current carbon footprint of Australian general practice. Estimates of general practice’s carbon footprint in the UK suggest that between 65% and 90% of it is associated with pharmaceutical prescribing (8); pathology testing and diagnostic imaging together contribute 9%. (9)

More isn’t always best in healthcare. Choosing required treatments wisely and reducing the amount of unnecessary tests and procedures are also essential steps in reducing your carbon footprint.

Good clinical practice can be both high quality and low carbon.

You can read more in the Choosing Wisely in General Practice resource.

Outside of prescribing and other medical treatments, travel and energy use are the main components of the general practice footprint.