Lancet Releases Major Health and Climate Change Report

The Lancet published a new report, 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change: Policy Responses to Protect Public Health. An update to the landmark 2009 Lancet Commission report, this new report argues that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.

Examining the latest data, the report finds that the health risks of climate change are unacceptably high, even potentially catastrophic for human survival. However, the report goes on to show that efforts to mitigate or adapt to this threat will have a direct benefit to human health, saving lives and improving the quality of life for individuals worldwide.

How we achieve this global health opportunity, the report continues, is no longer a technological or economic question – it is a political one. The report recommends that a strong international agreement, focused on moving towards a global low-carbon economy, will be critical to protect human health. 

The Role of the Health Sector and the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge

The Lancet Commission Report on Health and Climate Change  remarks that "by moving toward low carbon health systems, health care can mitigate its own climate impact, become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, save money and lead by example."  Indeed, working with health care to reduce its own emissions helps set the stage to engage health care’s moral, political and economic clout in addressing climate change.

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2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, a global initiative that is bringing together leading hospitals and health systems from every continent to announce their commitment to measurably reducing their own carbon footprint.  The initiative is designed to garner commitments, measure footprint reduction and simultaneously forge long-term health care leadership in advocacy for climate mitigation to protect public health.  

As of June 2015, the 2020 Challenge currently has 26 participants, representing 1190 hospitals and health care facilities in 11 countries.