Providence joins Biden Administration pledge to decarbonize health care sector, make facilities resilient to climate change
Providence’s leadership recognized by Administration officials at COP27
Renton, Wash., November 10, 2022 – Providence was celebrated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) on November 10, 2022 for pledging ongoing action to decarbonize the health care sector and make health care facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change. Providence has formally committed to pursuing the Biden administration’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and has already begun to organize, mobilize, track, and report greenhouse gas reduction efforts with its WE ACT framework. The WE ACT framework targets reduction in waste, energy and water, agriculture and food, chemicals, and transportation.
A September 2021 consensus statement from more than 200 medical journals named climate change as the number one threat to global public health. It exposes millions of people in the United States to harm every year—with disproportionate impacts on communities that are often already the victims of longstanding discrimination—through increases in extreme heat waves, wildfires, flooding, vector-borne diseases and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions. The healthcare sector also contributes to climate change, accounting for approximately 8.5 percent of U.S. domestic emissions.
The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, developed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge to help focus industry response to climate challenges. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities for both chronic and acute catastrophic climate impacts.
More than 100 prominent health companies in the U.S. have signed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, including organizations representing 837 hospitals as well as leading health centers, suppliers, insurance companies, group purchasing organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Federal systems like the Indian Health Service (IHS), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and Military Health System (MHS) are working together to meet goals similar to those that private sector organizations have embraced. Combined, this means that over 1,080 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, together representing over 15 percent of U.S. hospitals.
“HHS returns this year to COP27 to report great progress,” said ADM Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health. “Through the efforts of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity and several other HHS agencies, we have made significant strides in introducing resources and supports to help communities and care providers accelerate their work to reduce harmful emissions and increase climate resilience in the health sector.”
Providence has committed to an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program to reduce environmental impacts generated through its supply chain by making purchasing decisions that align with goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and minimizing chemicals of concern. Over the last three years, Providence has implemented strategies that have seen impactful results:
- Waste – Two hospitals are already at a 50% waste reduction goal.
- Energy and water – 20 health care facilities are powered with 100% renewable electricity.
- Agriculture and food – Several gardens, CSA programs, and a prescription produce program offering fresh local produce to people with chronic health issues.
- Chemicals – Reduced greenhouse gases from anesthetic agents by 69% and 96% of computer purchases meet EPEAT standards.
- Transportation – An 86% reduction in business trips in 2021, compared to 2019.
“At Providence, we know that to achieve our vision of Health for a Better World, we must extend our healing beyond the walls of our ministries and partner facilities, into the world around us,” Ali Santore, chief advocacy and social responsibility officer at Providence said. “Environmental stewardship is essential to improving the health and well-being of our caregivers, patients, and communities. We understand that healthy people require a healthy environment in which we live.”
For more information about how Providence is responding to our nation’s climate challenges, visit Providence.org.
Providence is a national, not-for-profit Catholic health system comprising a diverse family of organizations and driven by a belief that health is a human right. With 52 hospitals, over 1,000 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing, and much other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ more than 120,000 caregivers serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, with system offices in Renton, Wash., and Irvine, Calif. Learn about our vision of health for a better world at Providence.org.
About the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity
The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) plays a vital role in protecting the nation’s health from climate change-related risks, including extreme heat, natural disasters, vector-borne diseases and more. Among the supports OCCHE provides for health sector companies that wish to reduce their environmental impact and become more resilient to the effects of climate change are a webinar series and associated compendium of federal resources to support emissions reduction and resilience. OCCHE also publishes a regular Climate and Health Outlook, an effort to inform health professionals and the public on how our health may be affected in the coming month(s) by climate events and provide resources to take proactive action.