Connecting Climate Change and Public Health
Between sea level rise, extreme weather, smoggy skies, and climate anxiety, it’s not difficult to see the many ways that climate change can damage our physical and mental health.
Air pollution is just one example of the links between climate change and health. Many sources of air pollution, such as burning fossil fuels, are also sources of greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat and contribute to global warming. Warmer temperatures, in turn, can cause more air pollution.
Outdoor air pollution is associated with an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Household air pollution causes another 3.8 million premature deaths annually, the WHO estimates.
Seeing the inextricable links between climate change and their missions to preserve public health, healthcare organizations are setting increasingly ambitious goals and taking action to achieve Net Zero emissions. We have longtime clients in the healthcare industry such as Nebraska Medicine and the Nebraska Methodist Health System who we help to implement targeted strategies — often using our Net Zero Pathway model.
International frameworks such as the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) tell us that net greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut in half by 2030 and drop to zero by 2050 to curb the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Our Net Zero Pathway provides clarity for complex organizations such as hospitals to understand their emissions baseline, what they can do to have the biggest impact, and when and how to implement those actions.