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Climate and Health: 2016 is THE Year

By Lauren Kleinman, Outreach and Engagement Specialist

It’s been a good year for climate in 2015—the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, the Clean Power Plan, the White House Summit on Climate and Health, and of course as this blog is releasing- the upcoming Paris talks. 2015 was also the year we saw health systems making firmer commitments to climate:

Wow. When it’s listed in its entirety, it’s so encouraging to see the progress made!

But the reality is that we know this is yet a small subset of the 5,000+ hospitals in the U.S. Imagine instead if every single hospital in the U.S. were investing in renewables or had reduced emissions by 80 percent.

So let’s do it. Practice Greenhealth is committed to helping members take the next step in this work.Over the next year, we will be rolling out a series of tools, resources, webinars, and challenges to get started on Climate and Health.

It begins on December 16 at 3:00 p.m. EST with a webinar led by Gary Cohen, Robin Guenther and Jon Utech from Cleveland Clinic: Get Started on Climate and Health.

We updated the website, so now there is a separate topic for Climate and Health. This new framework explains why this work is so important, links to the latest news and research, existing resources from our partners, and a toolkit to assist our members. Throughout 2016, you’ll see additional toolkits, posters, and fact sheets to assist with exciting new initiatives like Employee Solar Discounts, Fossil Fuel Free Retirement Accounts and tracking / reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We’ve also heard from our members that this is still a difficult topic to communicate. Check out the new powerpoint with script, posters and infographics that were created to assist with communicating the linkage between climate and health.

One important lesson we learned from the Healthier Hospitals Initiative was the importance of setting goals in a challenge structure. We heard from so many hospitals and health systems that this framework allowed them to organize, set targets, and celebrate milestones. The first of a few climate and health related challenges will be the Renewable Energy Challenge. Renewable energy will include offsite, onsite and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and the qualifying sources are defined in the Practice Greenhealth award application. But that is just one step in the mitigation framework, and soon after the Renewable Energy Challenge will be two more: Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions tracking and reduction challenges.

This is just the beginning of a longer content roll-out, and we invite you to contact us with suggestions or if you need help getting started.

It’s been a good year for climate, but 2016 will be even better. Join us in improving the health of our communities, our patients, and our environment.

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