Infectious Disease

HHS, White House announce new initiative to reduce emissions in health care

April 22, 2022

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In celebration of Earth Day, HHS, in partnership with the White House, has announced a pledge initiative calling for reduced emissions across the health care sector.

“We need all players on the field confronting the climate crisis; sitting on the sidelines is not an option,” HHS Secretary Xavier BecerraJD, said in a press release. “Every stakeholder group in America must step up, and collaboration across the public and private sector is key. At HHS, we stand ready to partner with as many players as possible. Reducing emissions and fighting climate change’s catastrophic and chronic impact on vulnerable people is key to building a healthier nation.”

HHS and White House launch initiative to reduce emissions in health care. Source: Adobe Stock.

Hospitals, health systems, suppliers, pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders are invited to submit pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase their climate resilience amid widespread calls for immediate action.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued numerous reports in recent months emphasizing the imminent and irreversible risks associated with climate change. The health care industry alone produces more than 4% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and a similar amount of worldwide toxic air pollutants, Healio previously reported. Moreover, the US is the world’s greatest emitter of greenhouse gases from health care activities, according to a 2019 Health Care’s Climate Footprint report from Arup and Health Care Without Harm. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, producing tens of thousands of tons of extra health care waste. In the US, the health care sector contributes 8.5% of total national emissions, Gina McCarty, a national climate adviser, said in the release.

Institutions that participate in the pledge will commit to reducing their organization’s emissions (by 50% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050) and publicly reporting on their progress; completing an inventory of supply chain emissions; and developing climate resilience plans for their facilities and communities, at minimum. The initiative also requests that pledge institutions designate an executive lead for this work.

The White House will host a convening in June to promote climate actions in health care.

Forms for the pledge are due by June 3 and may be submitted here.

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Climate Change and Health Resource Center

Climate Change and Health Resource Center

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