US | Dignity Health CEO: More Needs To Be Done To Prioritize Climate Change

25 February 2016 — Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, one of the United States’ largest health systems, wrote in Health Affairs Blog about the health care industry’s “moral responsibility to address climate change head-on.” Below we highlight some particularly powerful excerpts on the role of the health care industry in leading the way to a healthy climate.

On hospitals reducing their carbon emissions and increasing use of renewable energy:

Although progress has been slow, more and more hospitals are recognizing the importance of going green and hospitals are instituting sustainable practices. In fact, during the recent United Nations COP21 Conference on Climate Change in Paris, Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition that works to make the health care sector more ecologically sustainable, announced that 67 organizations, representing 8,200 hospitals and health centers from 16 countries, had pledged to reduce their carbon emissions by 2020.

… [Dignity Health has] pledged to increase our use of renewable energy to 35 percent by 2020, and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020. We are pleased to announce that we are ahead of our goal to meet these targets by 2020.

On supporting policies for energy efficiency and renewable energy:

We are also proud to help pass SB 350, which is a bill that will help to double energy efficiencies by building and increasing by 50 percent renewable energy for California.

On shifting investments away from fossil fuels:

But we took our environmental stewardship one step further. We took a critical look at Dignity Health’s investment portfolio to ensure that we limit our relationships with the worst environmental offenders. During [COP21], Dignity Health announced that we will now restrict our investments in thermal coal companies, and instead, ask our investment managers to incorporate sustainability into the analysis of companies within their portfolios.

On mission-driven leadership on climate change and environmental health:

As leaders in health care, we share a mission to protect our patients and help our communities live healthier lives. And increasingly, our patients are beginning to expect and demand that we make sustainability a priority. So as an industry, we have a moral responsibility to address climate change head-on.

… Dignity Health will continue to advocate for aggressive strategies that will directly reduce the risk to public health. We want to inspire other health care organizations to reevaluate their policies with an eye toward promoting sustainability.

While our individual efforts may yield varying outcomes, I believe that together, we can make a substantial difference to advance environmental health that will ultimately benefit our patients, our staff, and our communities.

Read Lloyd Dean’s full article in Health Affairs Blog here.

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