As the United Nations (UN) climate conference gets underway this week in Paris, Kaiser Permanente is showing support for an international agreement to slow global warming by signing the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, which shows U.S. businesses are urging government to support clean energy.
Officials from as many as 190 countries are meeting in Paris for 12 days between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11 to discuss climate change and try to come to an agreement to jointly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UN has held international climate talks for 20 years, but this year’s summit — called COP21 — is noteworthy because current agreements to cut emissions expire in 2020, and climate change has received significant public attention in recent years.
Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president of community benefit, research and health policy, and Kathy Gerwig, environmental stewardship officer, will join other business and health care leaders at the COP21 events this week to underscore the connection between climate change and community health. Baxter will speak as part of a panel on climate and health being organized by the Global Climate and Health Alliance and the World Health Organization.
Greenhouse gas emissions are a known contributor to climate change and to the increase in pollution and disease. Climate change threatens many of the necessities of good health, including clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through improved energy, agriculture and transportation choices can result in improved health today and in the future.
Kaiser Permanente is one of 154 U.S. businesses to sign the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, joining such organizations as Facebook, Nike, Ikea and others to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to climate action.
The second largest emitter of carbon pollution behind China, the U.S. has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 (from 2005 levels).
The companies signing the American Business Act on Climate Pledge underscored their support for the U.S emissions plan by submitting their own goals for climate action. The following is Kaiser Permanente’s pledge:
THE AMERICAN BUSINESS ACT ON CLIMATE PLEDGE:
We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.
We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.
As a health care provider, Kaiser Permanente feels a special responsibility to fight climate change and reduce pollutants that can lead to disease. Already a top user of green power, the organization will generate and buy enough wind and solar energy over the next two years to provide half of the electricity we use in California and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent. This commitment to renewable energy is a natural extension of our mission to create healthy communities, and is just one aspect of an ambitious sustainability program that in recent years has:
- Reduced water intensity use by 10 percent
- Reduced waste by 41 percent
- Decreased the amount of meat per patient meal by 18 percent
- Increased the amount of locally gown/sustainably produced fruits and vegetables served to our patients to 50 percent
- Avoided vehicle trips through telehealth while improving health care