Leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit, it is an important time for hospitals to make climate commitments to bring health to the forefront of the climate change discussion.
Both the Health Care Climate Challenge and the We Are Still In pledge demonstrate your commitment to lead on climate change solutions. By signing the We Are Still In pledge, U.S. health systems join a cross-sectoral coalition of over 2,800 businesses and organizations in pledging to support the Paris Agreement. By joining the Health Care Climate Challenge, you can put that pledge to work by implementing climate-smart health care and motivating other hospitals to do the same.
If you have not yet signed up for the Health Care Climate Challenge or We Are Still In, we have made it easy to do both at once. Simply “opt in” to We Are Still In when you sign up for the Climate Challenge.
The Health Care Climate Challenge is based on three pillars:
- Mitigation: Reduce health care’s own carbon footprint.
- Resilience: Prepare for the impacts of extreme weather and the shifting burden of disease.
- Leadership: Educate staff and the public about climate and health and promote policies to protect public health from climate change.
Climate Challenge talking points for leadership
- The opportunity to improve patient/community health outcomes: By mitigating and reducing carbon emissions, health care facilities can directly improve the health of their patients and communities.
a. Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths in the U.S. each year.
b. Moving to cleaner energy, the EPA estimated its Clean Power Plan’s climate and health benefits worth $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and as many as 150,000 asthma attacks in children.
- The opportunity for financial savings: By mitigating and reducing their carbon emissions, health care facilities are becoming increasingly energy efficient, resulting in energy cost savings.
a. Example from the Climate Action Playbook: Ascension’s environmental stewardship program met the Better Buildings Challenge goal of 20 percent energy reduction by 2020 across its acute care hospital portfolio. More than three years ahead of their plan, Ascension reduced energy use by 21 percent, saved $53.3 million in cost avoidance and reduced over 1.1 million tons carbon dioxide emission across 141 health care facilities.
- The opportunity for hospitals to be anchor institutions for their community: As anchor institutions, hospitals can embrace a commitment to use their social and economic influence and intellectual resources to better the long-term public and environmental health of their communities.
a. Example from the Climate Action Playbook: Partners HealthCare designed and constructed its Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital to maintain uninterrupted operations through extreme weather events and to accommodate projected sea level rise.
We Are Still In talking points for leadership
The health care sector should be a leading voice in the growing We Are Still In coalition.
- By signing the We Are Still In pledge, you join a large, diverse coalition made up of more than 2,800 leading companies, investors, colleges and universities, faith groups, along with major U.S. cities and 11 states.
- The We Are Still In pledge will be featured during the Global Climate Action Summit giving health care an opportunity to clearly communicate its leadership on climate to the world.
- Health systems can demonstrate their commitment to climate solutions by standing with the many other corporations, colleges, and universities that are stepping up.
- The health care voice is critical to communicating the need for climate action to the public, and governors, mayors, and businesses are eagerly seeking additional health care leaders to sign on.
- By signing you do not commit to any specific action or reporting requirement. Rather, this is a public messaging strategy that shows the unity of the U.S. private sector and city and state governments in committing to the Paris Agreement.
- There are already nine health systems signed on including: Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health, Hackensack Meridian Health, Mercy Health, Oregon Health & Science University, Providence St. Joseph Health, Trinity Health, University of Vermont Medical Center, and Virginia Mason Memorial - Virginia Mason Medical Center and Yakima Valley.
- Once we have enough hospitals signed on, “health care” will receive its own section on the website (similar to higher education), thus elevating our sector’s climate leadership.