We continue to work hard to balance our commitment to managing our impact on climate change with our mission to provide medicines that make a difference in important areas of healthcare.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

In common with most businesses, our greenhouse gas emissions come mostly from the energy we use at our facilities, from the various means of transport we use and, indirectly, from the activities of our suppliers.

We believe that our primary responsibility is to reduce our carbon footprint by, amongst other things, improving our energy efficiency and pursuing lower-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels. The use of carbon offset or other third party reduction credits is not something we would consider as an alternative to driving our own efforts to reduce emissions.

Our efforts are focused on the high impact areas of our business activity. For example, we are working with our fleet management and leasing suppliers to introduce sales fleet reporting to track the CO2 emissions of new and existing fleet vehicles and we are introducing CO2 caps on new car purchases in our major markets. In 2009, AstraZeneca in the US received Automotive Fleet magazine’s first annual “Fleet Environmental Leadership" Award for improving its impact on the environment by reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

Our ongoing energy efficiency programmes worldwide include integrating green technology principles into our process design and exploring how we can better conserve energy in the laboratory, specifically the use of fume cupboards. We also continue to look at the potential for further investment in low carbon and renewable energy options at our sites and in greener energy supply from external power suppliers.

Alongside this, we run employee awareness campaigns to make people aware of how their individual contributions to saving energy, however small, can make a big difference.

Earth hour

In 2010, AstraZeneca again joined the millions of people who turned their lights off to mark Earth Hour on 27 March. 25 of our sites around the world took part, helping to make this a record year for the event, with over 128 countries and territories joining the global display of climate action. Find out more about Earth Hour.

Across all of our activity, we continue to engage and work with other organisations to share learning and promote best practice. This includes working with suppliers to understand the environmental impact of the activities they conduct on our behalf and how we can work together to minimise this impact.

Our carbon footprint is also affected by some of our respiratory therapies. We believe that the benefits that these therapies offer patients outweigh the potential impact on the environment.

Some of our respiratory therapies come in pressurised metered dose inhalers that rely on propellants such as hydrofluoroalkanes (HFAs) to deliver the medicine to a patient’s airways. Whilst HFAs have no ozone depletion potential and a third or less of the global warming potential than the CFCs they replace, they are still greenhouse gases.

Our Turbuhaler a dry powder inhaler technology does not use propellants and, whilst the majority of our products use this technology, there are some patients for whom the Turbuhaler is unsuitable. We will continue to provide pMDIs for these patients, as long as there is a medical need and there are no alternatives to HFA propellant gases that are safer for patients and the environment.

We recognise that climate change is not just an environmental challenge – it also affects the health and livelihood of millions of people.

Climate change is having an impact beyond the environment because of the links to complex issues such as poverty, economic development and population growth.

Our business is fighting disease and some of our work relates to the emerging health needs that are being linked to climate change. For example, our work to expand our range of medicines for respiratory disorders including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the research we are doing to find a new, improved treatment for tuberculosis. Alongside this, we also work with non-governmental organisations and other partners to help vulnerable communities in the developing world to strengthen their healthcare capabilities.

We will play our part, but the most effective response to all the challenges associated with climate change can only be achieved through a united global effort that takes account of the wider context of sustainable development.

Find out more

LabTalk is AstraZeneca’s science-focused blog where you can hear from scientists, researchers and academics discussing novel ideas, research and innovation.

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