Health Systems Come Together at the Conference on Climate Change

Health system representatives from 16 countries have come together at the United Nation’s Conference on Climate Change in Paris this week to announce a number of commitments and actions to reduce carbon emissions in the healthcare industry. More than 50 health systems, representing over 8,200 hospitals, have come to the conference to join the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge. The challenge, led by Health Care Without Harm, requires health systems to pledge “to reduce their own carbon footprint, become climate resilient anchors in their communities, and pursue both political and economic solutions that will protect public health from climate change”.

“These hospitals and health systems are leading by example, reducing their own carbon emissions by 30, 50, even 80 percent.” said Gary Cohen, Founder and President of Health Care Without Harm. “At the same time, many are investing in clean renewable energy, while calling on leaders to implement policies locally, nationally, and internationally that foster a global transition away from fossil fuels.”

“Paris provides a leadership moment for health care – an opportunity to take on perhaps the greatest threat to public health of our time,” said Josh Karliner, Global Projects Director for Health Care Without Harm. “By transitioning to clean, renewable energy, health care can help the world kick its addiction to fossil fuels and issue a prescription for a healthy planet.”

One of the goals of the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge is to urge the U.S. health sector to reduce its carbon emissions by 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2025. According to Practice Greenhealth, “achieving this target would reduce U.S. health care’s greenhouse gas emissions by 250 million metric tons of C02e every year, greater than all of France’s carbon emissions and the equivalent of taking 52 million cars off the road”.

“After COP21, HCWH will scale up the 2020 Challenge to include thousands more health systems around the world,” said Mr. Karliner. “Building on the examples and experiences shared this week in Paris, the 2020 Challenge will mobilize large groups of hospitals and health systems around the world to step up their efforts in combating climate change.”

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