Recognizing the critical need to address climate change through health sector leadership, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) announces the launch of its Action Collaborative on Decarbonizing the U.S. Health Sector (“Climate Collaborative”), a public-private partnership of leaders from across the health system committed to addressing the sector’s environmental impact while strengthening its sustainability and resilience.
“Climate change is one of the most pressing existential threats to human health,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau, co-chair of the initiative. “As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience has taught us that we address complex, systemic problems most effectively when we share a common purpose and work in coordination. NAM is using its important role as an independent convener to launch this Climate Collaborative to help align the sector around collective goals and actions for decarbonization, and its technical excellence to ensure the best and safest quality of care, while improving health equity.”
The health sector is responsible for approximately 8.5% of U.S. carbon emissions, a leading cause of climate change. The harmful effects of climate change are not distributed equally, but are experienced disproportionally by communities that have been historically and persistently marginalized and disenfranchised — in particular Black, Indigenous, and people of color — who also face the greatest barriers to accessing and receiving quality care. Reducing the carbon footprint of the entire health care sector will benefit society and the economy, as well as advance health equity.
The Climate Collaborative will focus its work on health care supply chain and infrastructure; health care delivery; health professional education and communication; and policy, financing, and metrics. The co-chairs of the collaborative’s steering committee are:
- Victor Dzau, president, National Academy of Medicine
- Rachel Levine, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- George Barrett, former chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health
- Andrew Witty, CEO, UnitedHealth Group
The Climate Collaborative will kick off with a public launch event on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 11 a.m. EDT. Registration and information can be found at bit.ly/391GL30. For more information and to register for updates on the Climate Collaborative, visit nam.edu/ClimateCollaborative. The Climate Collaborative is part of the NAM Grand Challenge on Human Health and Climate Change, a multiyear global initiative to improve and protect human health, well-being, and equity by working to transform systems that both contribute to and are impacted by climate change. Learn more at nam.edu/ClimateChange.
For questions, contact ClimateandHealth@nas.edu.