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Pharma sector is a bigger polluter than the automotive industry

Published on 28/05/19 at 10:45am

The pharmaceutical industry is a bigger polluter than the automotive sector, according to a study from researchers at McMaster University.

In 2015, the pharmaceutical industry produced 48.55 tonnes of CO2 emissions for every million dollars of revenue, meaning the sector as a whole produced 55% more CO2 than the automotive industry.

While the global pharma sector is made up of more than 200 companies, only 25 consistently reported their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions in the past five years. Of those 25, only 15 firms had records reaching back to 2012.

There were however significant differences between firms. While Eli Lilly, P&G and Abbot were found to be the worst polluters, Roche, J&J and Amgen were found to pollute the least.

Meanwhile Merck, Pfizer, AbbVie, Sanofi, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, J&J and Roche, had all shown improvement between 2012 and 2015. Others, including Eli Lilly, P&G, Abbot, GSK, Teva, Novartis and AstraZeneca, had all gotten worse.

Notably, the three least polluting companies also had the highest levels of profitability and revenue growth among all firms.

Roche, Johnson & Johnson and Amgen showed revenue increases of 27.2%, 25.7% and 7.8% respectively between 2012 and 2015 while reducing emissions by 18.7%, 8.3% and 8% respectively.

All in all, Eli Lilly was found to generate 5.5 times more carbon emissions than Roche, who polluted the least among the 15 biggest firms.

Nevertheless the findings show that the pharmaceutical industry would have to reduce emissions by 59% by 2025 in order to meet targets set in the Paris agreement.

Louis Goss

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