Health Sector is Latest to Join We Are Still In
21 American health care systems committed today to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The health care sector–America’s largest employer and a growth industry–is the latest sector to join the “We Are Still In” coalition, strengthening the message to the world that the United States is still committed to the Paris Agreement. The first 21 systems to sign onto We Are Still In represent 763 hospitals, 784,778 employees, and 167.2 billion dollars in revenue across 39 states.
The We Are Still In (WASI) coalition formed in June 2017 in response to the current administration’s plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. With the addition of the 21 health care systems it now counts more than 3,000 businesses, state, and local leaders, universities and other organizations from all 50 states among its ranks.
The 21 American Health Care Systems include:
Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health, Mercy Health, Hackensack Meridian Health, Health Care Without Harm, Oregon Health and Science University, Providence St. Joseph Health, Trinity Health, University of Vermont Medical Center, Virginia Mason Health System, Virginia Mason Memorial, Partners HealthCare, Boston Medical Center, UC Health, UC Davis Health, UCSF Health, UC Irvine Health, UCLA Health, UC San Diego Health, Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, and Alliances of Nurses for Healthy Environments
“As healthcare providers, it is our responsibility to protect and improve the health of our patients,” said Sr. Mary Ellen Leciejewski, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Dignity Health. “As we look at the social determinants of health, we look beyond our hospital walls at the factors that impair health. That must include protection for the air, water, and land from which we depend for healthy life. That’s why we are committed to making impactful solutions head on.”
The health care sector is responsible for nearly 10 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. Further, those emissions have a startling health impact. A recent study predicts that greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. healthcare system will cause as many as 381,000 additionally years of life to be lost each year due to ill-health, disability or early death. By taking action to reduce emissions, these health care systems will improve public health, protect the environment, and spearhead a more sustainable direction for America’s fastest growing economic sector. Many have already taken significant strides:
“As the largest safety net hospital in New England, we know first-hand how climate change is impacting the health of the most vulnerable members of our community. That’s why Boston Medical Center has invested in a 60-megawatt solar farm in North Carolina, the largest renewable-energy project ever built in the U.S. through an alliance of diverse buyers.” – Bob Biggio Sr. Vice President Facilities & Support Services, Boston Medical Center
As another example, Dignity Health has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent since 2010, by expanding its use of renewable energy and cutting its overall energy usage by 16 percent from 2010 levels. Dignity Health is now raising its game, setting plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and increase sourcing of renewable energy by 35 percent by 2020. Additional examples of health systems that have taken critical actions to curb their emissions and improve the sustainability of their operations include Mercy and Hackensack-Meridian Health. Mercy Health has adopted more sustainable purchasing and procurement practices and is investing in green roofing and other low-emissions building practices to reduce their carbon footprint. Hackensack-Meridian Health has invested more than $30 million in energy efficiency projects and has instituted more environmentally-friendly practices like phasing out toxic cleaning supplies across their hospitals.
Health Care Without Harm
Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. With offices on four continents and partners around the world, Health Care Without Harm is leveraging the health sector’s expertise, purchasing power, political clout, workforce development, and moral authority to create the conditions for healthy people, communities, and the environment.