Hope for a Healthy Planet: The Health Sector’s Role in Mitigating Climate Change
A Declaration from the Health Care Climate Council
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human health today. The widespread and serious impacts of climate change are apparent: temperature-related illness and death, injuries and illnesses due to extreme weather events, the spread of infectious disease vectors, increases in water borne illnesses, and wide-ranging impacts from air pollution. Although no one can escape climate change, our most vulnerable people – children, the elderly, the poor, and people with underlying health conditions – are facing the greatest risks.
Should climate change remain unchecked, it will continue to exacerbate the global burden of disease and health inequities, increase health care costs, and overwhelm public health infrastructure worldwide. However, the health care sector’s economic, political, and moral influence offers significant opportunities to lead societies in adapting to the effects of climate change and the risk it poses to human health.
As the frontline stewards of individual and community health, hospitals are in a unique position to address climate change. In addition to making impactful and measurable progress in their own operations to address climate change, hospitals must work towards accelerating investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency; scaling the adoption of climate change mitigation and resiliency programs; and advocating for local, state, and national policies that ensure a sustainable and healthy future.
As members of the Health Care Climate Council, we recognize the immediate and long-term health benefits of climate change mitigation and we are committed to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect and promote public health.
We call on all hospitals – in the United States and throughout the world – to join us in taking significant and measurable actions that the mitigation of climate change demands. We have an opportunity and an obligation to protect the communities we serve from the health impacts of climate change. In doing so, we can work together to restore the delicate balance between human and environmental health and offer hope for a healthy planet.