Recognizing the pressing threat posed by climate change to both human health and the health care system, Partners HealthCare joined Harvard Medical School and more than 25 affiliated institutions in fall 2018 on a commitment to extensively decarbonize operations. Reducing the carbon footprint of health care institutions is critical to a society-wide effort to fight climate change. Fossil fuels emit both greenhouse gas emissions and health-harming air pollutants implicated in conditions such as asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, catastrophic weather events driven by climate change can threaten critical health care infrastructure, such as the medical facilities destroyed by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, spurring care shortages.
This effort by Harvard-affiliated hospitals and clinical institutes is part of a Decarbonizing Healthcare initiative underway at the Harvard Global Health Institute, which drives similar commitments from other hospitals in Massachusetts and across the globe.