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Health Care Commitment to Tackle Climate Change Launched at Clinton Global Initiative

Health Care Without Harm and Skoll Foundation announce a a new effort to reduce health care’s carbon footprint.

Health Care Without Harm, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation, unveiled a commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to reduce health care’s carbon footprint in order to protect public health from climate change.

Health care currently represents 8 percent of U.S. and 5 percent of European greenhouse gas emissions. The CGI commitment sets an ambitious target to mobilize 10,000 hospitals and health centers on every continent in a collective effort to reduce the health sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons annually by 2020. This is equivalent to taking 5.5 million cars off the road or installing 7,000 new wind turbines every year.

“Climate change is an issue that affects the health of our planet and everyone on it,” said Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “We are making this commitment at CGI for two reasons: to achieve sustainable global change at a systems level, while helping broaden discussion and action on climate. Health care is at the core of every human’s well-being. By extension, health professionals are integral to our future, and can help lead the response to one of the most urgent global threats of our time.”

The CGI commitment builds on Health Care Without Harm’s 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge by setting ambitious targets. Participants in the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge already include more than 30 major health systems representing 1,200 hospitals and health centers from around the world, from Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States; amongst other countries.

Why We Need Hospitals to Help Lead the Fight Against Climate Change

In his recent Huffington Post article, Josh Karliner discusses how hospitals around the world can - and should - lead the fight against climate change.

As we approach COP21 in Paris this December, leading health authorities are recognizing climate change as one of the great public health crises of our time. So it's quite the paradox that health care contributes much more than it should to rising global temperatures.

Every year, to simply operate, hospitals must burn through gigatons of fossil fuel energy. This doesn't just contribute to global warming, it also creates the kind of local air pollution that kills seven million people every year. That's more than double the toll of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

It's a vicious and ironic cycle and, there is a pressing need for doctors, nurses, hospitals, and health systems around the world to respond to this emergency.

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