Health Care Without Harm and Skoll Foundation announce a a new effort to reduce health care’s carbon footprint.
Health Care Without Harm, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation, unveiled a commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to reduce health care’s carbon footprint in order to protect public health from climate change.
Health care currently represents 8 percent of U.S. and 5 percent of European greenhouse gas emissions. The CGI commitment sets an ambitious target to mobilize 10,000 hospitals and health centers on every continent in a collective effort to reduce the health sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons annually by 2020. This is equivalent to taking 5.5 million cars off the road or installing 7,000 new wind turbines every year.
“Climate change is an issue that affects the health of our planet and everyone on it,” said Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “We are making this commitment at CGI for two reasons: to achieve sustainable global change at a systems level, while helping broaden discussion and action on climate. Health care is at the core of every human’s well-being. By extension, health professionals are integral to our future, and can help lead the response to one of the most urgent global threats of our time.”
The CGI commitment sets an ambitious target to mobilize 10,000 hospitals and health centers on every continent in a collective effort to reduce the health sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons annually by 2020. This is equivalent to taking 5.5 million cars off the road or installing 7,000 new wind turbines every year.
In this regard, Josh Karliner, Director of Global Projects and the International Team Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm, affirmed in an article posted on the Huffington Post: “As we approach COP21 in Paris this December, leading health authorities are recognizing climate change as one of the great public health crises of our time. So it's quite the paradox that health care contributes much more than it should to rising global temperatures”.
The CGI commitment builds on Health Care Without Harm’s 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge by setting ambitious targets. Participants in the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge already include more than 30 major health systems representing 1,200 hospitals and health centers from around the world, from Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States; amongst other countries.
Many health care systems are committing to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions, often by 30 or 40 percent. Some are moving toward carbon neutrality. Others are advocating for public policies that foster a transition away from fossil fuels and to clean, renewable energy.
“This is just the beginning of a worldwide effort,” said Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm, and a Skoll Social Entrepeneur. “Our commitment at CGI is to scale-up this Challenge so that protecting public health from climate change becomes embedded in health care’s DNA the world over.”