Climate leadership

The challenge

Hospitals and health professionals serve on the front lines of climate change, bearing the cost of more frequent extreme weather events and changing disease burdens. Public investments in infrastructure and preparedness affect the ability of a hospital to be “climate ready.” Hospitals and health systems are large purchasers of energy, so their financial viability – as well as the cost of patient care – is impacted by local and state energy policy.

Hospitals and health systems have a direct stake in climate solutions and clean energy policies and must be at the table when these important decisions are made. As valued anchor institutions, hospitals are also essential partners for advancing mitigation and climate resilience strategies in the communities they serve.

“Given the size and scope of the health care sector in the U.S. and globally, health care climate leadership has to the opportunity to play a major role in mitigating the coming changes.”

– Gary Cohen, co-founder of Health Care Without Harm and and Kate Walsh, Boston Medical Center, president and CEO in Modern Healthcare

Our work

As the only sector with a healing mission, hospitals and health systems bring a unique moral credibility to the public conversation about climate change and clean energy. As trusted messengers, health care professionals have the ability to reframe climate change as a threat to human health. Together, hospitals and health care professionals can be powerful advocates for climate-smart policies.

Health Care Without Harm works with valued partners including health systems, clinicians, other nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses to support leadership on climate and health. Along with our partners, we work to inspire the health care sector to use its voice to establish a public understanding of climate change as a health threat that must be addressed.

In the summer of 2018, Health Care Without Harm helped launch a new “health pillar” of We Are Still In 🡥, bringing an initial 19 health systems into the cross-sectoral coalition. By signing the We Are Still 🡥 in pledge, hospitals join mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, college and university leaders, businesses, faith groups, and investors to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Health Care Without Harm advances health professional leadership through our Physician Network, which supports physician leaders in leveraging their influence and expertise to advance climate-smart health care, and through the Nurses Climate Challenge 🡥, a national campaign mobilizing nurses to educate health professionals on the health impacts of climate change.

Additional resources

Climate action: A playbook for hospitals 🡥
The Climate Action Playbook captures examples of the many ways Health Care Climate Council members are moving toward climate-smart health care. The playbook is intended to inspire hospitals to engage further in climate action, and provide a vivid path forward to achieving measurable progress and outcomes.

Health Care & Climate Change: An Opportunity for Transformative Leadership
This paper effectively makes the case that clean energy investments can help control health care costs, improve the quality of care, and reduce the environmental impact of the health care sector.

The Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health 🡥
The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health (Consortium) organizes major medical societies representing over 700,000 physicians and health professionals dedicated to making health and equity central to how we think, talk, and act on climate change.