Boston - As a member of the Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC) and co-chair of the IAC Climate Justice Working Group, Health Care Without Harm is extremely disappointed by Governor Baker's decision to veto comprehensive legislation that would have enabled an energy transformation and allowed Massachusetts to put policy into practice towards achieving a healthier, more equitable, climate-ready Commonwealth. It is an unfortunate setback, particularly in a state that prides itself on being a leader on health and climate.
COVID-19 has made the lines between climate, health, and inequality indistinguishable. The convergence of these crises over the past year means the veto comes at a time when the state can ill-afford to delay progress.
A climate-smart Commonwealth is a healthy Commonwealth, one whose businesses, residents, and communities will thrive, economically and otherwise.
“To suggest that anything in the bill will undermine economic growth and a post-COVID recovery, is misleading,” said Health Care Without Harm’s Boston director of Climate Policy Eugenia Gibbons.
Massachusetts households spend approximately 6-10 times more on health care and health insurance than they do on energy. There are quantifiable benefits associated with energy efficiency and renewable energy that are not being fully valued. Energy emission reductions translate to avoided health and societal costs and can drive innovation to achieve compliance. Per EPA, $1 invested by hospitals in energy efficiency is conservatively equivalent to $20 in new revenue.
“Energy efficiency and transitioning to renewable energy result in reduced illness and premature death, and help contain health care costs. These health benefits are frequently factored into climate action in the health care sector and need to be considered as part of the state’s climate strategy, particularly in a post-COVID recovery,” said Gibbons.
“Time and again, my colleagues and I have borne witness to the devastation wrought by the virus and to the reality that the harm caused has been worse for patients who have also been subjected to poor air quality caused by pollution from the burning of climate-changing fossil fuels. During the current health crisis, frontline healthcare workers are doing their part. We wish that our leaders would do theirs,” said Dr. Alexander Rabin, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Tufts Medical Center.
Associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Regina LaRocque, added, “Like a “Code Blue” in the medical setting, the climate crisis requires urgent attention. Vetoing the bill suggests we have time to spare – which we don’t."
Health Care Without Harm is grateful to House Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka for committing to refile and pass the bill as previously reported out of conference committee.