Pharmaceutical Company Targets and Strategies to Address Climate Change: Content Analysis of Public Reports from 20 Pharmaceutical Companies

28 March 2023

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Pharmaceutical companies help humans stay healthy, so we wondered what they are doing for planetary health, by focusing on the greenhouse gas emissions produced by pharmaceutical companies that are adding to climate change.

We wanted to know whether the largest pharmaceutical companies have set targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, what they are doing to reduce their emissions and how well they are doing.

We identified the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies (by revenue), with a total revenue of $580 billion and more than 1.2 million employees.

Nineteen of the 20 companies have set targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Of these, 10 have committed to carbon neutrality and eight have committed to net zero emissions between 2025 and 2050.

We saw that companies are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their owned or controlled sources (e.g. from company vehicles and purchased electricity). They were doing this by becoming more energy efficient and by switching to renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Companies need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the goods and services they buy. Just 11 of the 20 companies reported on all of their supply chain emissions. Three companies only included business travel or flights in their reporting and six did not report on supply chain emissions at all.

Overall, the findings of this study are encouraging. The authors recommend that pharmaceutical companies improve their climate change reporting by agreeing common standards and solutions, in particular, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their supply chain.

To find out more, you can access the full research paper here.