WASHINGTON, DC – March 8, 2023 – Climate change is wreaking havoc on the environment which in turn is causing many adverse health impacts. The health care sector is responsible for 8 to 10 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. It needs to lead by example to advance health and climate goals. Health care is on the front line of the climate crisis. Patients experience the adverse health effects of a changing climate, along with injuries, illness, and mental health impacts related to extreme weather events. These climate effects exacerbate existing racial and economic disparities in health care. As we have seen here at home and across the nation, climate events can severely disrupt health care access, delivery and supply chains.
On Earth Day, April 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with The White House, issued a call to action for the health care sector to commit to tackling the climate crisis. HHS asked health care institutions to sign the voluntary Health Care Sector Climate Pledge, commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and plan for climate resilience to protect the communities they serve. These measures have also been shown to save money as well as to help health care organizations achieve their mission to improve the health of their communities.
The pledge asks hospitals and health systems to:
- Reduce their organization’s emissions 50% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050
- Designate an executive lead for environmental sustainability by 2023
- Develop climate resilience plans for their facilities and their communities by the end of 2023
- Complete an inventory of supply chain emissions by the end of 2024
- Publicly report progress on an annual basis.
More than 100 organizations representing over 800 hospitals have responded and signed (including Atrium Health in North Carolina). The Pledge was open for signing in 2022 from April 22 to June 10 and from June 30 to October 28.
Hospitals and health systems throughout the United States and North Carolina need to take climate action to improve health, equity and resilience. Carolina Advocates for Climate, Health, and Equity (CACHE), a non-profit organization of concerned physicians, healthcare providers, and public health professionals from North Carolina, is leading a grassroots advocacy campaign to align our hospitals and health systems with the HHS goals for environmental sustainability, equity, and health.
Last month, Dr. Kathleen Shapley-Quinn, the Executive Director of CACHE, said “There’s hope that the pledge will reopen soon.” Her prescience has been rewarded because it was reopened on March 9th.
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Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org