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Stanford Medicine leaders sign Biden administration pledge to address climate change

A roundtable at the White House on reducing the health care industry’s climate-warming emissions includes leaders from Stanford Medicine.

Leaders at Stanford Medicine have pledged to reduce climate-warming emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Tomasz Makowski

Editor’s note: This article was originally published June 30, 2022, and was updated Nov. 28, 2022.

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

The June 30 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 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.”

Leaders of Stanford Health Care, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, Stanford Health Care Tri-Valley and the School of Medicine have signed the Biden administration pledge.

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,” Entwistle said. “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.”

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. 

“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 Medicine Children’s Health. “This pledge will help us continue to support our patients and broader community for many decades to come.”

At meetings in November, the boards of directors for Stanford Health Care and Stanford Medicine Children’s Health affirmed their support of efforts to decarbonize the health care sector and advance sustainable practices.

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.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care, and Stanford Children's Health. For more information, please visit the Office of Communications website at http://mednews.stanford.edu.

2022 ISSUE 1

Understanding the world within us

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