AstraZeneca steps up to tackle climate change

AstraZeneca steps up to tackle climate change

As the world's leading biopharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca understands how crucial it is to push the boundaries of science and deliver life-changing medicines in record time. The strong dedication to creating a better and healthier future for all, including those living in Thailand, is attested by supplying over 2.8 billion doses to over 180 countries and the implementation of bold initiatives in sustainability.

Sjoerd Hubben, Vice President and Head of Global Corporate Affairs at AstraZeneca, said the largest UK-listed biopharmaceutical company plays an active role in helping the global community tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, especially when it comes to climate change.

"It is important for companies such as AstraZeneca to commit more broadly to societal goals beyond delivering medicines. We want to make bigger contributions to society," Mr Hubben said.


According to The Lancet medical journal, the healthcare sector is responsible for approximately 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The study analysed multiregional input-output data for 189 countries from 2000 to 2015.

Mr Hubben said AstraZeneca recognised that the health of the planet, people and economies are interconnected. He also pointed out that the climate crisis is contributing to a rise in chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and respiratory diseases, and therefore that everyone involved in the delivery of healthcare has a role to play in reducing emissions.

AstraZeneca is one of the first seven companies globally to have its net zero targets verified by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in line with its Net-Zero Corporate Standard.  To support its decarbonisation goals, AstraZeneca aims for 95% of its key suppliers and partners to have science-based targets by the end of 2025.

"AstraZeneca has made a bold commitment with our Ambition Zero Carbon strategy; we're aiming to have zero carbon emissions from our global operations and fleet by 2025 and become carbon negative by 2030 across our entire value chain," he said. Zero carbon refers to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emitted being equal to the amount of carbon being absorbed from the atmosphere and becoming carbon negative means removing or sequestering more CO₂ from the atmosphere than is emitted.

"We’re helping our partners transition to more sustainable solutions including access to renewable energy,” Mr Hubben added. 

To ensure the results of such ambitious goals, Mr Hubben, who joined AstraZeneca six years ago, said the United Nations Global Compact and CDP-backed Science Based Targets initiative team independently verify their targets. 

Over the past six years, AstraZeneca has achieved a 59%  reduction of its Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG footprint, and in 2021, 100% of AstraZeneca's imported electricity came from renewable sources. Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions that come from the company's sources, while Scope 2 refers to indirect GHG emissions from the company.


Implementing sustainable solutions that ensure patients' access to medicine while accelerating the delivery of net zero healthcare is what AstraZeneca had in mind when it announced a collaboration with Honeywell this year.

The Global Asthma Network report stated that nearly 339 million children and adults  have asthma, with low- and middle-income countries disproportionally experiencing the most severe cases. And according to the World Health Organization, a large percentage of asthma patients are prescribed medicine or a type of respiratory inhaler known as a pressurised metered-dose inhaler (pMDI).

“Respiratory diseases are pressing issues around the world that are directly linked to pollution and GHG emissions. Our new partnership with Honeywell is developing next-generation respiratory inhalers using a new type of propellant that is 99.9%  less polluting than propellants currently used in respiratory medicines,” Mr Hubben said.

"That's just one example of how we are working across our entire product line and also across what we can do ourselves, our partners, and our supply chain to get everyone on board with drive our sustainability agenda."


This collaboration with Honeywell to develop next-generation pMDIs using the propellant HFO-1234ze recently achieved positive results from the first human Phase I trial. This means AstraZeneca is now advancing to the next step of developing and commercialising respiratory therapies with the propellant.

A systems-level approach is needed to improve the chances of creating a better tomorrow. Hence, AstraZeneca is a founding member of HRH The Prince of Wales Sustainable Markets Initiative, with CEO Pascal Soriot leading the newly launched Health Systems Taskforce. The Taskforce aims to accelerate the delivery of net-zero healthcare through private-public collaboration at scale.

"There are vaccines available for COVID-19, but there is no vaccine for climate change. We need the industry to commit more boldly to tackling this agenda. It's the largest societal issue we all face, and our children too," Mr Hubben said.


As for Thailand, AstraZeneca has been working on the Young Health Programme, which focuses on preventing common non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, among young people aged between 10 and 24.

Since the launch of the programme in 2019, there have been several substantial outreach efforts such as advisory committee meetings, district launches in Bangkok and Samut Prakan province, peer education training and sessions, training for teachers, peer educators supporting school health programmes, communication campaigns, and events linked to awareness days, such as network building with health professionals.

"We are now entering the third year of this programme,” Mr Hubben said. “And we have reached 10,180 young people and more than 117 peer educators. We have also successfully mobilised 196 community leaders, 354 teachers, 3,258 caregivers, and 57 health professionals through the programme  to help increase healthcare education across Thailand.”

Another successful partnership in Thailand that Mr Hubben celebrated is the establishment of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing hub last year.

"We have 25 manufacturing partners globally, but the partnership here with Siam Bioscience and the Thai Ministry of Public Health is one of our most successful collaborations to ensure that people have access to the vaccine in a timely way,” Mr Hubben said. “With these two entities, we ensured we could set up a supply chain that could deliver our COVID-19 vaccine to hundreds of millions of patients across Asia."

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