Biden-Harris Administration catalyzes private health sector commitments to reduce climate impacts and protect public health
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing how President Biden’s leadership on climate change is catalyzing private health sector commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and protect public health. At a White House event with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and partners from across the health sector, participants pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, in line with goals set by President Biden for the U.S., while producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities and communities for both chronic and catastrophic climate impacts.
“Nobody should underestimate the importance of federal and private sector health care leaders joining together to address the impacts of climate change,” said Secretary of Health and Human Service Xavier Becerra. “Health care providers already see the undeniable risks to their patients, especially those who already face other economic and health disadvantages. With suppliers and pharmaceutical companies helping decarbonize the supply chain, where so much of the sector’s carbon footprint lies, the health sector is getting a significant jump on addressing one of the key issues of our time.”
"Climate change threatens the health and well-being of the Veterans we serve, as well as the resiliency of the thousands of VA facilities across the country that deliver essential care and services,” said Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “Under President Biden’s leadership, VA is responding to the climate crisis by modernizing our facilities, increasing efficiency, shifting to clean energy, committing to moving VA to a net-zero emission organization. To truly care for Veterans and all Americans, we need to address climate change—and this pledge is an important step toward doing exactly that. We are proud to be a part of it.”
“Climate change presents serious and urgent threats to public health, and our response has to match those threats,” said ADM Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health. “We’re already seeing the damage done by extreme heat, wildfires, severe storms, and increasing chronic disease burdens, all associated with climate change. It’s exciting to see so many health care organizations come together to reduce their emissions and protect human health from climate change. Today’s announcement is just the beginning of a longer ongoing effort with partners from across the industry, which is exactly the kind of big response we need as a country.”
Signatories to date represent 650 hospitals, numerous health centers, insurance companies, suppliers, professional associations and other industry stakeholders. There are 61 total signatories:
- Health Systems, Hospitals and Other Providers
- Providence Health, HealthPartners, Kedren Health, CommonSpirit, University Medical Center of El Paso, NYC Health and Hospitals, Boston Medical Center, Baystate Health, Stanford Children’s Health, Stanford Health Care, Atrium Health, Cherokee Health Systems, University of California Health, Northwell Health, Rush University System for Health, Northern Arizona Healthcare, Hackensack Meridian Health, UW Medicine, RWJBarnabas Health, Sun River Health, NYU Langone Health, Ascension, Henry Ford Health, Mass General Brigham, Boston Children’s Hospital, Tufts Medicine, Southcoast Health, Children’s National Hospital, Mount Sinai Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Keck Medicine of USC, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, DaVita, Montefiore, Seattle Children’s, Valley Children’s Healthcare, University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine, Advocate Aurora Health, Gillette Children’s, University of Utah Health, Steward Health Care System
- Other Industry Organizations
- Philips, AstraZeneca, Owens&Minor, NewGen Surgical, Chiesi Group, Pfizer, AmerisourceBergen, Excellus Health, Blue Shield of California, Vizient, Aspirus, Anthem, WCM Waste and Compliance Management
- Associations, Nonprofits and Technical Assistance Organizations
- National Academy of Medicine, Association of American Medical Colleges, The Joint Commission, Health Care Without Harm, American College of Physicians (NJ), Kimball Sustainable Healthcare, Mazzetti
Today, the White House and HHS are also reopening the decarbonization pledge to new signatories until October 28. Stakeholders that sign by that date will be recognized in an announcement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in November 2022.
To facilitate climate action in the health sector, HHS, VA and its partners are announcing several new resources in association with today’s event, all of which are outlined in the White House fact sheet. These build on actions HHS has taken over the past year to strengthen its climate response, with a focus on advancing health equity and protecting vulnerable communities:
- Launching its new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), which orchestrates the Department’s work to protect vulnerable communities that disproportionately bear the brunt of pollution and climate-driven disasters, such as drought and wildfires, at the expense of public health.
- Convening a Climate Change and Health Equity Working Group of representatives from each of the Department’s Operating Divisions and Staff Divisions. This group captures all of the work taking place across HHS to support climate health and equity, and supports the development of future strategy that leverages the Department’s full range of resources and policy tools.
- Conducting regional listening activities and issuing Requests for Information (RFIs) to better understand how climate change is impacting individuals, communities and providers. RFIs from the National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health have sought to more fully understand threats to health presented by climate change and potential solutions to address them.
- Making major commitments to progress on climate preparedness and mitigation through the United Nations Climate Conference Health Program and the HHS Strategic Plan. By executing on these explicit commitments, HHS is complying with Executive Order 14057 to create resilient and low-carbon health systems.
- Offering supports to individuals, families and communities as they manage the challenge presented by climate change, including $385 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds announced in April to help families manage energy costs in the midst of extreme temperatures, part of even larger LIHEAP assistance commitments from the Biden-Harris Administration.