Mount Sinai, Anthem join White House climate pledge

Healthcare organizations including Anthem, Mount Sinai Health System and the Joint Commission have joined a White House climate pledge aimed at reducing emissions and investing in climate resiliency.

Companies including hospitals, insurers, group purchasing organizations and pharmaceutical companies signed the commitment, in addition to the Indian Health Service, Veterans Health Administration and Military Health System.

By signing, approximately 15% of U.S. hospitals have said they would slash emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, according to the Health and Human services Department. HHS also announced plans to collaborate with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service on procurement to reduce the carbon footprint of the healthcare supply chain.

Along with Anthem, New York-based Mount Sinai and the Joint Commission, other companies that made commitments were Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente, Boston-based Mass General Brigham and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Trade groups including the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Academic of Medicine also signed on.

Mount Sinai is investing in electric cooling and heating technology that will reduce its facilities’ reliance on fossil fuels, the company announced Thursday. The health system is also looking at its supply chain and has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from food purchases 25% by 2030.

“We understand the impacts that climate change has on the health of the communities we serve. Thus, we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment while also ensuring that we are resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Christina McNeilis, Mount Sinai’s associate director of sustainability, said in a statement.

A spokesperson from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts wrote that the insurer plans to update software that tracks internal emissions to get a better view of their climate impact. The company is also exploring investments in solar energy and carbon offset programs. “As a payer, we are not a big contributor to these emissions—they come from the provider side—but we are exploring how payer innovation can help drive change and advance environmental stewardship across the health system,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

These companies are groups are joined by vendors AmerisourceBergen and GE Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sanofi.

“After meeting massive demands during the pandemic, healthcare organizations are again stepping up to the plate to address the threats of climate change,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release. “The organizations that signed the pledge are demonstrating to the health sector that climate smart investments are not only possible, but are becoming standard for the industry.”

Addressing climate change will be a top priority for the Joint Commissions, president and CEO Dr. Jonathan Perlin said in a statement. On Thursday, the Joint Commission announced it was convening an advisory panel to recommend new climate-related accreditation standards. The organization is also reviewing existing standards to ensure they don’t encourage overconsumption of materials, a spokesperson said.

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