“Green informed consent” in the classroom, clinic, and consultation room

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 26 (4):507-515 (2023)
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Abstract

The carbon emissions of global health care activities make up 4–5% of total world emissions, placing it on par with the food sector. Carbon emissions are particularly relevant for health care because of climate change health hazards. Doctors and health care professionals must connect their health care delivery with carbon emissions and minimize resource use when possible as a part of their obligation to do no harm. Given that reducing carbon is a global ethical priority, the informed consent process in health care delivery must change. I argue that the expanded role of bioethicists in this climate crisis is to promote and support “green informed consent:” the sharing of climate information with patients, offering options for lower-carbon health care, and accepting the patient’s right to decline treatments which are deemed too carbon intensive for their values.

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