Commit to reducing carbon footprint through 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge
(April 16, 2015) – Nine leading health care institutions from across the globe are pledging to take meaningful action on climate change, kicking off a worldwide campaign to mobilize hospitals and health systems to address one of humanity’s most pressing problems.
Their commitment signals the launch of the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, a global initiative from Health Care Without Harm’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network. The 2020 Challenge invites health care systems and hospitals to reduce their carbon footprint and protect public health from climate change in the run-up to a worldwide meeting of heads of state at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change this December in Paris.
The 2020 Challenge also marks the first international effort ever to track emissions and take measurable actions to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.
“At a time when climate change is posing one of the greatest threats to public health, hospitals and health systems are stepping up to help the world kick its addiction to fossil fuels,” said Josh Karliner, Global Projects Director for Health Care Without Harm, and coordinator of its Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network. “This is a leadership moment for health care.”
The 2020 Challenge participants, health systems from Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States, have committed to substantially reduce their own carbon footprint, prepare to withstand extreme weather events, and to promote public policies to reduce greenhouse emissions. Together they represent the interests of more than three hundred hospitals. Hundreds more from around the world are expected to join the Challenge in coming months.
Initial participants in the 2020 Challenge include Counties Manukau Health (New Zealand), Gundersen Health System (USA), Hospital Albert Einstein and Hospital Sirio Libanes (Brazil), Kaiser Permanente (USA), NHS Sustainable Development Unit (England), Virginia Mason Health System (USA), Western Cape Government Health (South Africa), and Yonsei University Health System (South Korea).
Several of the initial participants, such as Kaiser Permanente, Yonsei University Health and the NHS have already committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent or more by the year 2020. All have also pledged to encourage public policy, economic development, and investment strategies that move their societies away from fossil fuel dependency and toward healthy energy alternatives.
“In every region of the world, health care can lead by example,” said Veronica Odriozola, Executive Director of Health Care Without Harm Latin America. “Whether it is an off the grid clinic deploying solar power to run its operations and help electrify a community, or a large hospital reducing its own emissions to address respiratory disease from air pollution, we can all move toward low carbon health care.”
The 2020 Challenge is now open for hospitals and health systems from around the world to join. To participate, health systems endorse a Leadership Pledge (http://greenhospitals.net/sign-pledge/), agree to set carbon reduction targets and share data on their carbon emissions. Participants also agree to promote climate resiliency in their health systems, and work on a series of leadership activities. Global Green and Healthy Hospitals is organizing a series of events around the world to build momentum for the Challenge in the lead-up to the Paris Conference.
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