Leading health systems form alliance to address climate change in California
California Health Care Climate Alliance will advocate for climate-smart policies
[Sacramento, Calif., Aug. 22, 2018] Amid deadly fires and record-breaking heat waves in California, four of the state’s largest health systems – Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Providence St. Joseph Health, and Sutter Health – have formed the California Health Care Climate Alliance. The Alliance was formed in advance of next month’s Global Climate Action Summit which calls for deeper commitments and accelerated action to address climate change by all sectors of society.
Representing 107 California hospitals and serving more than 20 million patients in the state, the Alliance aims to drive stronger commitments from California’s health care sector to protect the public from the health impacts of climate change and to work with policymakers in Sacramento to support the state’s climate goals.
“With the recent record-breaking heat waves and deadly fires in Northern California, the formation of the alliance could not be more timely,” said Jessica Wolff, U.S. director of Climate and Health at Health Care Without Harm. “The work of the Alliance is critical to preventing the worst effects of climate change and to creating resilient hospitals and communities across the state.”
California Health Care Climate Alliance members will work together to bring health care’s expertise, experience, and trusted voice to the legislative and regulatory process for climate-smart policies related to energy, transportation, food, waste, infrastructure, and community resilience.
“Climate change causes extreme heat waves, wildfires and droughts that hurt people, make them sick--and worse,” said Dr. Elizabeth Baca, Deputy Director, Governor's Office of Planning and Research. “This alliance of large California health providers is taking action to help make our hospitals and health care systems more resilient and better prepared for the worst impacts of climate change. Health care contributes 13 percent of California's economy so the work of these health providers will play a key role in helping this state meet its pollution reduction targets. The California Health Care Climate Alliance is a great example of the type of commitments to address climate change Gov. Brown is calling for at the Global Climate Action Summit.”
Leading by example, Alliance members have committed to deeply reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and to driving California’s transition to 100 percent clean energy. To date, the Alliance’s founding members have installed and/or procured 190 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power 47,500 homes each year, and their combined commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will result in a projected reduction of more than 1.1 million metric tons of CO2e, equal to taking 235,546 cars off the road each year.
The California Health Care Climate Alliance recently held its first meeting with state agencies in Sacramento and outlined recommendations for both sector and policy action.
“We are excited to see the members already focusing on actionable steps to work together and with the state to build a climate-smart health care system and promote healthy, resilient communities,” Wolff said.
Statements from founding health systems.
Lloyd Dean, Dignity Health president and chief executive officer
“At Dignity Health, we believe that our well-being is inextricably connected to the health of our planet. We also see the effect of environmental change on vulnerable populations – the elderly, our children, people with chronic diseases, and in low-income communities. Our healing ministry compels us to provide quality, affordable care for everyone and that is why we are committed to protecting our patients and communities by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent within the next two years. We look forward to working with the other members of the new California Health Care Climate Alliance and policymakers in Sacramento to build healthier, more resilient communities for all Californians.”
Bernard J. Tyson, Kaiser Permanente chairman and chief executive officer
“Climate change affects the physical and mental health of the people in our communities. We see this in increased respiratory and heat-related illness, as well as in the trauma faced by those who lose loved ones or homes in wildfires and floods. Kaiser Permanente is committed to protecting the health and wellness of people everywhere, and we know climate is a key factor for good health. We have taken many steps to mitigate climate change and are working toward becoming carbon neutral in 2020. We’re also are partnering with others to drive the right combination of private sector action and policy advocacy to help the state meet its ambitious climate goals. We hope others will join us in leading the shift toward a lower-carbon economy.”
Rod Hochman, M.D., Providence St. Joseph Health president and chief executive officer
“Environmental stewardship is an integral part of Providence St. Joseph Health’s vision of ‘health for a better world.’ Joining the California Health Care Climate Alliance as a founding member furthers our goal of partnering with others to provide care to those that need it most and to create lasting solutions in the communities we serve. We know that caring for the environment is not only the right thing to do, but also makes sense because we save money when we are energy efficient. By working with policymakers to support climate-smart health care in California, we can simultaneously create healthier communities while reducing the cost of care.”
Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., Sutter Health chief medical officer
“At Sutter Health, we’re constantly striving to make communities healthier. We believe that being climate-smart and creating a healthier world depends on all of us working together. Healthcare serves on the front lines of climate change, and hospitals must be prepared to care for people when climate-related natural disasters occur. In the face of Northern California’s recent and devastating wildfires, Sutter Health staff showed bravery and disaster preparedness in working to quickly and safely evacuate and care for patients as the fires affected our hospitals and region. Joining the California Health Care Climate Alliance aligns with our commitment to protecting communities from the impact of climate change and creating sustainable environments for everyone. We look forward to sharing our experience and advocacy to help California meet its climate goals. Californians, and people all across the country, will benefit from the partnerships and work of California Health Care Climate Alliance for generations to come.”
To learn more about the California Health Care Climate Alliance and the founding members, visit noharm.org/californiahcca.
About Health Care Without Harm
Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so the sector reduces its environmental footprint and becomes a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.