Citing climate crisis’ risk to public health and industry, health care providers reaffirm responsible business practices
Five major U.S. health care systems today released an open statement affirming their commitment to responsible business practices that take the severe public health and financial risks of the climate crisis into account.
Signed by Providence, Boston Medical Center, CommonSpirit, HealthPartners, and Hackensack Meridian, the statement comes amid widespread efforts by a group of state and federal lawmakers to pass policies designed to ban private-sector actors that account for these risks. It is addressed to policymakers and emphasizes that signatories are making business decisions that address climate change because it is a risk both to public health and to their ability to provide health services.
“Bottom line: Climate change poses a material financial and public health risk to the entire health care sector. Just as we address other risks to our complex operations, we will make long-term, climate-smart investments that limit our exposure to climate risk. We will increase our deployment of renewable energy, invest in energy efficiency measures, and ensure that our buildings and facilities are resilient,” the signatories wrote. “Growing evidence indicates that these efforts yield significant and wide-ranging cost savings, reduced risk and increased stability for organizations and the communities they serve, and improved corporate performance.”
The full text of the statement is available here. It was organized by Health Care Without Harm and Ceres.
“Climate change is a serious threat to public health and the communities we serve. As a health care leader Providence is taking bold action to reduce our climate impacts by working toward becoming carbon-negative by 2030. As we advance our vision to build a healthier and more equitable world, we make strategic decisions to confront the climate crisis, and we value partnerships with government, agencies, and organizations that enhance our ability to do so,” said Ali Santore, EVP, Chief Advocacy and Social Responsibility Officer, Providence.
“In the communities we are privileged to serve, CommonSpirit Health sees firsthand the devastating effects that climate change has on public health and the economy. We view business practices that limit these effects — from adopting clean energy to building resilient facilities — as a common-sense risk management strategy with clear financial benefits. We are proud to join with our peers to reaffirm our commitment to business decisions that are good for public health, for the climate, and for the bottom line,” said Shelly L. Schlenker, MHA, EVP, Chief Advocacy Officer, CommonSpirit Health.
“Healthier hospitals mean healthier communities, which is why we are committed to operating our campus as cleanly as possible to achieve our public health mission. Our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only help to reduce the effects of climate change, but they also generate $10 million per year in utility savings that we have reinvested in patient care. We have no intention to change these business practices, and believe that any interference would hurt our hospital, our patients, and our community,” said Bob Biggio, SVP Facilities & Support Services, Boston Medical Center.
“Beyond our belief that addressing the environmental and social impacts of health care’s operations is part of our moral imperative, growing evidence indicates that these efforts yield significant and wide-ranging benefits. This includes substantial cost savings, reduced risk and increased stability for health care organizations and the communities they serve, as well as improved corporate performance,” said Gary Cohen, Founder and President, Health Care Without Harm.
The health care leaders are just the latest to join a growing number of public and private sector voices championing the freedom to invest responsibly, as policymakers across the country — especially at the state level — move to restrict financial institutions from considering the economic and financial risks of the climate crisis in their decision-making.
In March, more than 250 companies and investors signed a statement to policymakers demanding that they protect their freedom to invest responsibly; the list of signatories on that statement has since grown to more than 350. More than a dozen state and other public financial officers who are charged with protecting taxpayer dollars and the livelihoods of pension beneficiaries issued their own statement voicing support for responsible risk management practices. And, in May, more than 130 academics signed a statement supporting practices that protect investors from the effects of climate change, water scarcity, and other risks that materially harm investors.
Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.
About 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. For more information, visit noharm.org and follow @HCWithoutHarm.