Building a climate-smart health care system for California


(Bay Area Council Economic Institute) Climate change remains a serious threat to human health, and healthcare organizations in California, across the U.S., and globally can be catalysts in creating a climate-smart future.

California’s widely varying weather, coastal location, and large population mean the state is feeling the effects of climate change sooner and more severely than other regions. Severe heat waves, prolonged drought, uncontrollable wildfires, increased flooding, poor air quality, invasive species, and increased disease have already begun to impact every aspect of life in the state. The California wildfires of 2017 were the deadliest and costliest in the state’s history, claiming forty-two lives, destroying or damaging 32,000 homes, and costing nearly $12 billion.

California has set extremely ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. The state has goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, but despite recent progress, current simulations show the state’s emissions increasing around the year 2030, and continuing up from there. In order to reduce the health impacts of climate change, every business sector must take responsibility, but the massive size and mission-driven nature of the healthcare sector provide even greater impetus for action.


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