The health care sector has a critical role to play in combating climate change. Two important actions hospitals should consider are investment in clean technologies and divesting or freezing fossil fuel holdings.
Clean technology investments make sense for hospitals. They align with health care’s mission to support the health of the communities they serve. Investments in renewables and energy efficiency help reduce incidence of asthma, heart disease, and the spread of infectious disease by reducing the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Investments in technologies like combined heat and power (CHP), make hospitals more resilient in the face of extreme weather events. By increasing the overall level of investment, the health sector can reduce the health impacts of climate change, save money on energy costs, and help accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.
Divestment or freezing fossil fuel holdings is another important strategy for addressing climate change. The continued burning of fossil fuels will dramatically effect food production, water availability, air pollution, and the emergence and spread of human infectious diseases. Divestment can be a powerful tool to help bring attention to these risks and the effect they will have on public health and the overall health of the planet. By divesting or freezing fossil fuel holdings, the health sector can stand up for human health as it did in the 1990’s, when leading hospitals, health organizations, and medical schools divested their tobacco holdings to bring attention to the harm being caused by smoking.
If your hospital wants to learn more about Investment and Divestment, HCWH can put you in touch with financial experts, provide you with case studies and how-to guides, and connect you with hospitals that have robust investment programs.
Contact Jessica Wolff, Director of US Climate Program, for more information.
- The Case for Health Care to Transition Away from Fossil Fuels
Health Care Without Harm
- Investment White Paper
Health Care Without Harm
- British Medical Association Becomes World’s First Health Organization to Divest From Fossil Fuels
- Stanford becomes the most prominent university yet to divest from coal
The Washington Post
- Harvard Faculty for Divestment: An Open Letter
- Watch Thomas Van Dyke and Ellen Dorsey, of the Wallace Global Fund urge institutions to consider the risks posed to the Earth by the continued burning fossil fuels