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The pharmaceutical industry produces a large proportion of health system greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to climate change. This urgently needs to be addressed. We aimed to examine pharmaceutical company climate change targets, GHG emissions, and strategies to reduce them. We performed content analysis of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies’ publicly available 2020/2021 reports, focusing on extracting information on their reported climate change targets, GHG emissions (and whether companies had demonstrated any reduction in emissions over their reporting period), and strategies being implemented to reduce company emissions and meet their targets. Nineteen companies have committed to reducing GHG emissions, ten to carbon neutrality and eight to net zero emissions between 2025 and 2050. Companies showed largely favorable reductions in scope 1 (in-house) and scope 2 (purchased energy), with variable results in scope 3 (supply chain) emissions. Strategies to reduce emissions included optimizing manufacturing and distribution, and responsible sourcing of energy, water, and raw materials. Pharmaceutical companies are setting climate change targets and reporting reduced emissions via a range of strategies. This varies, with scope to track actions and accountability to targets, improve consistency of reporting, especially of scope 3 emissions, and collaborate on novel solutions. There is need for further mixed methods research on progress with achieving reported climate change targets, as well as implementation of strategies to reduce emissions within the pharmaceutical industry.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health



Publication Date





3206 - 3206