Health Care Without Harm’s climate work is carried out through a constellation of initiatives, networks, councils and organizations. The highlights include the following:
Health Care Climate Challenge
The Health Care Climate Challenge is mobilizing health care institutions around the world to protect public health from climate change. As the only sector with healing as its mission, health care has an opportunity to use its ethical, economic, and political influence to be a leader in climate solutions.
By moving toward climate-smart health care, the health sector can mitigate its own climate impact, save money, and lead by example. By becoming more resilient, health care can help prepare their own facilities and their communities for the growing impacts of climate change. And by providing societal leadership, the health sector can help forge a vision of a future with healthy hospitals and healthy people living on a healthy planet.
As of June 2018 the Health Care Climate Challenge has over 160 participants, representing the interests of more than 14,000 hospitals and health centers in 24 countries. The challenge is supported by Global Green and Healthy Hospitals and Practice Greenhealth
Mobilizing Hospitals as Air Pollution Monitors and Clean Air Communicators
Air pollution is a major concern for health and human development around the world, with evidence of links to cancer, asthma, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, changes linked to dementia, and harmful effects on the fetus and young child. It burdens economies by making workers and students less productive and stressing health care systems. The major sources of air pollution are also important drivers of climate change, which threatens public health around the world.
Based on a successful pilot we conducted in 2017 in Chennai, India, HCWH has developed a seven-country project to establish our member hospitals and health facilities as trusted sources of public information on air quality and its health impacts, and mobilizing them to support clean air campaigns in each target country.
U.S. Health Care Climate Council
In the U.S., HCWH leads the Health Care Climate Council, which is made up 19 U.S. Health Systems that operate 500 hospitals and who are engaged in mitigating their climate impact, investing in resiliency, and becoming leading voices in making the connection between climate change and human health. Health Care Climate Council members have a collective annual operating revenue of more than $165 billion and employ almost 1 million people.
European Health Care Climate Council
Established by Health Care Without Harm Europe in 2016, the Council is a growing coalition of hospitals and health systems from France, the UK, Sweden and Germany. The Council’s objectives include health care decarbonization, climate resilience, climate education and supporting the implementation of European and national policies and programs on climate, health and energy.
With more than 1,100 paying hospital members Practice Greenhealth is HCWH’s implementation arm in the U.S. It is the leading U.S. membership and networking organization for health organizations that have made a commitment to sustainability. Practice Greenhealth has become U.S. healthcare’s go-to source for information, tools, resources and expert technical support on sustainability, including on climate-related topics such as sustainable energy, transportation, food and procurement.
Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (GGHH)
An HCWH project, GGHH is an international network of hospitals, health care facilities, health systems, and health organizations dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint and promoting public and environmental health. As of June 2018, GGHH had more than 1,000 institutional members in 541 countries who represent the interests of over 32,1000 hospitals and health centers. GGHH members commit to a framework and roadmap to reach 10 interconnected sustainability goals. GGHH staff are based in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, China, Costa Rica, England, India, Nepal, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States. The Network is increasingly prioritizing climate, providing members with tools, resources and expertise to address climate-related issues such as carbon footprint reduction and resiliency, through sustainability strategies on energy, waste, buildings, procurement and more.
Health and Environment Leadership Platform—India
In February 2017, HCWH and the Public Health Foundation of India co-founded and launched the Health and Environment Leadership Platform (HELP). HELP is a coalition of fifteen leading health organizations (public and private) that together represent the interests of more than 5,600 hospitals and health systems across the country. HELP is a health sector coalition vehicle that will have a strong policy advocacy presence, the ability to educate and train health professionals working in its member institutions, the capacity to communicate to the public on air pollution climate and other crucial environmental health issues and the commitment of its members to lead by example by implementing climate-smart health care.
Green Health Exchange (GX)
GX is a purchasing cooperative created by Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm, and nine leading U.S. health systems committed to sustainability. GX specifies, screens and sources high-quality green products and services for its members. GX is developing a list of low-carbon products for health care procurement.
The Boston Green Ribbon Commission Health Care Working Group
The Group is co-chaired by two leading Boston hospital CEOs and staffed by HCWH. The Working Group has documented success in greenhouse gas emission reduction in the city’s hospitals and advances health care system climate resilience, developed energy and GHG metrics, developed energy strategic master plans, and more. It is a model that can be replicated.
Massachusetts Health Care Climate Alliance
In Massachusetts, HCWH has launched an alliance of senior leaders from hospitals across the state to deeply mitigate their sector’s climate impacts in pursuit of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, improve institutional climate risk mitigation and management, and leverage health care leadership’s moral and health authority to educate and engage policy makers to enact health-smart, public policy related to climate, energy and infrastructure resilience. With support from HCWH and Ceres, the Alliance is designed to enable collective policy engagement.
Healthy Energy Initiative
The Healthy Energy Initiative is an HCWH-led global collaboration of health professionals, health organizations, and health researchers engaging in science-based advocacy for a move away from fossil fuel-based power generation—particularly coal—and toward clean, renewable, healthy energy options. The Initiative is comprised of a network of partners around the world that coordinate strategic campaigns in key countries and regions, including Australia, China, Europe, India, the Philippines, South Africa and South Korea.
Global Climate and Health Alliance
HCWH co-founded the Alliance in 2011 after we organized the first Global Climate and Health Summit at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, and currently is represented on the Alliance’s board of directors. Alliance members are health organizations from around the world, united by a shared vision of a sustainable future. The Alliance works to tackle climate change and to protect and promote public health. With support from WHO and others, the Alliance has organized Climate and Health Summits parallel to the Climate COPs over the past several years, establishing a key space for health sector engagement with the international climate process.