The NHS has set out an ambitious plan to become the world’s first Net Zero National Health Service.  The NHS estimates that the use of medicines account for 25% of total emissions from the health service, it is critical that industry and the NHS work together to develop solutions that support this ambition.

The ABPI has committed to support our members towards delivering the NHS net zero goals.

As global businesses recognising that climate change is a global concern, pharmaceutical companies are taking action at a global level.

Many are setting targets according to the Science Based Targets Initiative, which provides companies with a clearly-defined path to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals - limiting global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

What are Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?

Greenhouse gas emissions are categorised into three groups or 'scopes' by the most widely-used international accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.

Scope 1 covers emissions that a company makes directly – for example while running its boilers and vehicles. Pharmaceutical companies are reducing Scope 1 emissions, for example by generating their own renewable energy, moving to electric vehicles and changing their international distribution networks to minimise emissions.

Scope 2 emissions cover those that the company makes indirectly – like when the electricity it uses, is produced on its behalf by a different company. Pharmaceutical companies are reducing Scope 2 emissions, by switching to renewable energy suppliers. Some either run completely on renewable energy or are working towards it.

Scope 3 emissions cover those are not generated by the company itself, but by any organisation or person they are indirectly responsible for. For example, Scope 3 emissions cover those generated from the suppliers of the components used to make medicines, the transport of raw materials and those generated by people using the pharmaceutical company’s products.
To tackle Scope 3 emissions, many companies are looking at the entire life-cycle of the way they manufacture medicines.

By reformulating medicines so they can be manufactured in a more environmentally friendly way, companies are reducing carbon emissions, saving water and waste and reducing the total environmental impact of what they do. 


GSK’s metered dose inhalers for asthma and COPD account for about 40% of their carbon footprint because the propellant used is a potent greenhouse gas. As part of GSK’s commitment to have a net zero impact on climate by 2030, they have started an R&D programme to find a lower-impact propellant that could reduce emissions from their inhalers by about 90%.

In line with the NHS agenda, GSK supports the prescription of lower carbon inhalers where medically possible. GSK has been working towards achieving carbon neutral status (as certified by the Carbon Trust) for its lower carbon inhalers by starting to deliver a product carbon reduction plan and then offsetting the remaining carbon that cannot currently be reduced, including by supporting a reforestation project in Ghana.

For healthcare professionals only: read more about carbon neutral inhalers on the GSK website


As part of GSK’s commitment to have a net zero impact on climate by 2030, they have set a target to transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2025. In September 2021, they announced a major £50m investment at manufacturing sites in Irvine in Scotland and the Oak Hill in the US to secure renewable power generation.

This includes new wind turbines and a 20-year power purchase agreement to supply solar electricity for the Irvine facility. 

Read more about GSK’s approach to environmental sustainability on their website

Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is driving change to defeat diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases. It also has the aim of reducing its environmental impact to zero by 2030 – from plastics to energy, water, and waste to CO2 –the Circular for Zero strategy.  Right now, Novo Nordisk runs all production on renewable energy and is talking to all its supply partners about switching to renewable energy by 2030. 

In 2020, CO2 emissions from production were 37,000 tonnes CO2, a reduction of 57% versus 2019, primarily due to the implementation of various renewable energy initiatives. These projects include implementation of renewable heat and steam in Kalundborg, wind power in France, Algeria and Russia, and solar power in the US.

Read more on the Novo Nordisk website


Novartis has set a target for full carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2025, and net zero across its value chain by 2040.

One project has consolidated medication shipments and saved emissions in more than 40 clinical trials. From 2021 Novartis will avoid an average of 18,000 shipments per year saving approximately 1,400 tons of CO2 annually.

Novartis ‘Green Expectations from Suppliers Framework’ and a Global Environmental Sustainability team are promoting ethical behaviours and fostering sustainability in their supply chain.

Read more on the Novartis website


Orion corporation has worked to reduce its carbon footprint with numerous energy efficiency projects, and in 2019 moved to 100% renewable electricity in Finland. Orion has made a further commitment to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030.

One strategic aim is to tackle the carbon impact of inhalers. Orion produces propellant-free powdered inhalers only, which have a carbon footprint 10-37 times lower than pressurised metered-dose inhalers. It has worked to minimise direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions across its own operations, and that of its suppliers, within the products life cycle. Remaining unavoidable emissions have been offset through projects that protect the world’s lungs, including reforestation in the UK. 

Read Orion’s latest sustainability report on their website


By 2040, Takeda commits to being net zero and has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 51% for Scope 1 and 2 since 2016.

Streamlining its supply chain and distribution networks, for example by reducing the number of distribution centres used, Takeda has saved enough energy to power 3,131 houses for a year. It also increased truck load fill from 60% to 85%, reducing the need for 250 trucks, the equivalent of enough energy to charge 3.1 million smartphones. 

Read more about Takeda’s commitment to net zero on their website


At its chemical factory, Lundbeck switched from fossil fuels to biofuel and this reduced CO2 emissions by 3,000 tons per year, a 16% absolute reduction of total scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Since 2006 Lundbeck has reduced its energy consumption by 30% equal to a 72% absolute CO2 reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions from our sites. This has been achieved by many different initiatives.

For example, a HQ cooling facility refurbishment in Denmark installed six new degassing units in 2019. This saves 300 MWh annually, equivalent to 60 tonnes of CO2.

Read more in EFPIA’s Climate Change White Paper.


Lundbeck has in 2020 signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a solar plant developer. The agreement covers Lundbeck's entire electricity consumption for operations located in Denmark for the next seven years. And it will allow the developer to receive the necessary financing for building the solar power plant, which will come into operation in 2022.

The solar plant will reduce CO2 emissions from our Danish sites by 3,615 tons per year and make up a total reduction of CO2 emissions from our sites of 79% compared to 2006.


Roche now uses 100% renewable electricity in its UK operations and aims for all vehicles used for business purposes are to be greenhouse gas free by 2030. They are also working with E.ON to offer 100% renewable electricity to their UK supply chain partners. 

Roche has reduced their global emissions by 57% since 2005 and are aiming for a 75% reduction by 2029. 

Read more about Roche’s commitment to minimise their environmental footprint on their website.


Pfizer is reducing greenhouse gas emissions across its operations. It has delivered a 33% reduction in emissions between 2012 and 2020.

In its 2030 targets, Pfizer aims to become carbon neutral across internal operations, delivering a 46% absolute reduction in direct emissions from a 2019 baseline, including purchasing 100% renewable energy.

Pfizer’s greenhouse gas reduction goals were validated by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) in 2015, and the company is committed to ambitious long-term actions. The 2030 target is also SBTi approved and is in line with the overall goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C.


Lilly has partnered with the renewable energy company Enerpower to construct the single largest Solar Farm in the Republic of Ireland. The 16-acre facility will help power a significant proportion of Lilly’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility at Kinsale (near Cork) with sustainable energy. Comprising 12,600 individual panels, the ground-mounted Solar Farm will produce up to 5.6MW of power allowing Lilly to reduce its annual carbon footprint at the site by 2,350 tonnes.

This investment is a key part of Lilly’s global commitment to make its operations carbon neutral by 2030. 

Read more about Lilly’s 2030 environmental goals on their website


MSD commits to achieve carbon neutrality across its operations by 2025 and will reduce value chain emissions 30% by 2030, from a 2019 baseline.

MSD has accelerated its previous goal of sourcing 100% renewable energy for purchased electricity by 15 years, to 2025, and has recently contracted three new virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) that will address approximately 35% of the emissions from electricity use.

A newly developed Low Carbon Transition Playbook includes a gap assessment for sites to evaluate the maturity of their energy programs and helps create plans to build toward a carbon-neutral future. 

Read more about MSD's plans on their website