Stanford University: Stanford Medicine leaders sign Biden administration pledge to address climate change

Stanford Medicine’s health care delivery system leaders joined the Biden administration for a White House roundtable Thursday, pledging to decarbonize the health care sector and make health care facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change.

The event included leaders from hundreds of hospitals and numerous health centers, as well as pharmaceutical companies, medical device makers, suppliers and group purchasing organizations. They committed to meeting the administration’s goal of reducing climate-warming emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The health care sector accounts for approximately 8.5% of domestic emissions.

“As part of our mission to improve global human health, Stanford Medicine’s health care delivery system is also committed to sustaining the health of our planet,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “We look forward to working with partners across government and industry — and the newly established Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability — to build on the progress we’ve made in reducing carbon emissions.”

Stanford Hospital achieved LEED gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in March, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford was the second in the world to receive LEED platinum status. Among other policies to address global warming, the adult hospital’s anesthesiology department has nearly eliminated desflurane, which has a global warming potential more than 2,000 times that of carbon dioxide, and the children’s hospital was built with louvers outside its windows that limit sunlight entering the hospital, reducing the need for air conditioning.

David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care, and Helen Wilmot, the organization’s chief facilities and sustainability officer, attended the roundtable at the White House.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with leaders across the health care sector to fulfill this important pledge,” said Entwistle. “Stanford Health Care will continue to work diligently to ensure our operations are both resilient to climate change and environmentally sustainable in the long term.”

The U.S. Office of Climate Change and Health Equity developed the health sector climate pledge in conjunction with the White House to help focus industry response to climate change. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to build climate resilience for their facilities and the communities they serve.

In September 2021, 200 medical journals named climate change the No. 1 threat to global public health. Millions of people living in the United States already experience associated harm — with disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged and underserved communities — through more frequent and intense periods of extreme heat, wildfires, flooding, vector-borne diseases, and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions.

“Addressing the impact of climate change is the most important step we can take to ensure the health of future generations,” said Paul King, president and CEO of Stanford Children’s Health. “This pledge will help us continue to support our patients and broader community for many decades to come.”