Reposted by permission from Health Care Without Harm
March 18, 2015
By Eric Lerner
Across the United States, a growing number of health systems are taking action to address climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing energy use, and investing in renewables.
Two recent success stories highlight this trend. In November, Gundersen Health became the first energy independent health system in the nation. Last month, Kaiser Permanente announced it will buy enough renewable power to provide half the electricity used by its hospitals, clinics, and offices in California.
There is a lot to feel good about when it comes to the health sector’s climate leadership. But at the same time we have to ask ourselves, are we moving fast enough? According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change is harming people around the globe now. New research shows that doctors are treating patients now who are experiencing health problems associated with climate change.
This is yet another warning that we are falling behind in our efforts to address climate change. So we set out to change that. This past summer, Health Care Without Harm launched the Health Care Climate Council. As a leadership network of health systems, the Council was built around the idea that health systems can be more effective in addressing climate and health issues by working together.
Health Care Climate Council members currently include 13 health systems, representing 364 hospitals in cities and communities across the country. And while new, we’ve accomplished a lot since our summer launch.
We developed a broad set of goals that range from modeling sustainability and resilience in the communities that hospitals serve to engaging in policy opportunities that promote the transition to healthy energy, low carbon, and energy efficiency strategies.
We’ve produced a climate declaration, op-eds, commentaries, and statements, and participated in a meeting at the White House on climate resiliency and mitigation with senior Health and Human Service leadership.
Recently, Council members came together in Washington D.C. for our first in-person meeting. In addition to the excitement and energy that members brought to the discussion, we made important strides in charting the course for our future work together. For example, we committed to:
Council Members include: Ascension Health, Cleveland Clinic, Dignity Health, Gundersen Health System, Hackensack University Medical Center, Inova Health Systems,InterMountain Healthcare,Kaiser Permanente, Partners Healthcare, Tenet Health, ThedaCare, University Hospitals, and Virginia Mason Health System.