Health Care

Global | Health Groups Call for Clean Energy Ahead of Paris Climate Talks

Organizations Representing Health Sector in Over 80 Countries Call for Shift from Fossil Fuels to Renewables, Citing Health and Financial Benefits

Health organizations spanning every continent issued a call today to end society’s deadly and costly dependence on fossil fuels. The Paris Platform for Healthy Energy reflects a growing consensus among health professionals and organizations across the globe that shifting to clean, renewable energy will protect public health from both global climate change and the impacts of local pollution.

With the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris commencing in less than three weeks, the Paris Platform for Healthy Energy makes an urgent health-based appeal to the world’s governments to achieve a strong, binding international climate agreement.

To date, 30 groups, representing health organizations in more than 80 countries, including prominent health professional federations, hospitals, health systems, and institutions of health education and research, have endorsed the Platform. The endorsements include the World Federation of Public Health Associations and the senior leadership of the World Medical Association.

“With the Paris Platform for Healthy Energy, the health sector is making it very clear that urgent global action is needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions. This would not only reduce health risks from climate change but also yield large health benefits and cost savings from prevented illness and premature death due to air pollution,” said Jennifer Wang, Coordinator of the Healthy Energy Initiative for Health Care Without Harm, which developed the Platform in collaboration with partners from around the world.

“The Paris Platform also shows that the health sector is ready to lead through its own actions and investments,” said Ms. Wang.

An endorser of the Platform, Dr. Maria Minerva Calimag, President of the Philippine Medical Association, commented that “As physicians, it is imperative that we support the use of renewable energy sources.” The Philippines is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world, yet expecting aggressive growth of coal in its energy mix. “The disease burden caused by fossil fuel emissions includes many cardio-respiratory diseases that result in deaths worldwide,” Dr. Calimag said.

“Fossil fuel dependence is driving climate change and negative impacts on air and water quality that cause harmful human health effects, with far-reaching consequences worldwide. Children are among the most vulnerable to these harmful health effects,” said Dr. Aparna Bole, a pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. University Hospitals Health System is a member of the U.S. Health Care Climate Council[i], which has endorsed the Paris Platform. “Our commitment to leadership in ‘healthy energy’ choices is an extension of our mission to heal and prevent illness.”

The lead endorsers of the Paris Platform for Healthy Energy are: the World Federation of Public Health Associations, Health Care Without Harm, Europe’s Health and Environment Alliance, and Australia’s Climate and Health Alliance.

The Platform is in part a response to a special report issued earlier this year by the internationally renowned medical journal The Lancet, which stated that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century. The Lancet specifically called on governments to rapidly phase out coal from the global energy mix to protect cardiovascular and respiratory health, and to rapidly expand access to renewable energy in low- and middle-income countries.[ii]

The text of the Paris Platform for Healthy Energy, along with the full list of endorsements and testimonials, is available at


 [i] The Health Care Climate Council is a leadership body representing hospitals across the United States that are committed to addressing the health impacts of climate change. See

[ii] See Watts N, et al, The Lancet 2015


Media Inquiries

Main Contact: Jennifer Wang, [email protected], +1 630-677-0390

Country/Regional Contacts
November 10, 2015Global

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South Africa | Spotlight on Climate, Energy, and Air Pollution at Public Health Conference

Facilitated by Health Care Without Harm’s Strategic Partner in South Africa, groundWork, climate change, energy choices, and air pollution were prominently featured at the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) Conference held in Durban on October 7-9, 2015.

The opening plenary session of the PHASA Conference was dedicated to the topic of sustainable development. It featured Health Care Without Harm’s senior advisor Dr. Peter Orris, Professor and Chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago (USA), who spoke about the health sector’s impact on sustainable development. Following Dr. Orris, Professor Patrick Bond, political economist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Development Studies in Durban and director of its Centre for Civil Society, discussed the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition to the plenary, groundWork facilitated a workshop called “Climate Change, Air Quality and Health: Impacts of Energy Choices” where Dr. Orris spoke in greater detail about the health effects of air pollution and how damaging it is to the population’s health. “Studies are beginning to show that air pollution from coal mines, factories and a build-up in pollution from transport affects reproduction in humans”, said Orris, who added that “the U.S. has seen an increase in infant mortality and a decrease in birth weight”. He also said that “the consequences of air pollution could also cause a drop in IQ levels among new generations with special needs children outweighing the number of intellectually gifted children”.

Global Green and Healthy Hospitals also took part of the workshop, with examples on the work of GGHH member in South Africa, the Western Cape Government Health, and a presentation on the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge. For more information on the work of Western Cape Government Health, click here.

Other topics discussed during the workshop were:

  • Health effects of energy production
  • Energy generation and the public’s health in South Africa
  • The Air Quality Act, air pollution and the disconnect between environmental governance and public health
  • Introduction to climate change and the health sector responses needed
  • Public Health Responses needed for climate change - Academic sector response

The other speakers in the workshop were:

  • Prof. Rajen Naidoo: Head of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Ms. Melissa Fourie: Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Rights NPC
  • Dr. Krish Vallabhjee. Western Cape DoH Chief Director: Strategy and Health Support
  • Prof. Bob Mash: Head of the Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care at Stellenbosch University
  • Mr. Andy Cunningham: Western Cape DoH Chief Director: Chief Engineer - Infrastructure and Technical Management

For more information on the workshop, read the article published on The Witness.

October 22, 2015Global

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Global Campaign to Engage Health Professionals in the Lead to COP21

Our Climate, Our Health is a global campaign by the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) from which Health Care Without Harm is part of, that hopes to engage health professionals in the lead-up to the COP21.

It also aims to act as an umbrella and an amplifier for some of the many initiatives being organized at local, national and international levels on the intersection of climate and health in advance of COP21.

The campaign hopes to engage health professionals in the lead-up to the international UN climate negotiations COP21 this December in Paris.

At the end of 2015, the eyes of the world will be on Paris for COP21. Over 25,000 official delegates from across the world, including negotiators, health and finance ministers, and civil society, will gather to agree on the global response to climate change. The health profession is mobilizing to let them know that our health matters, and that any response must ensure protect and promote human security and wellbeing for us and future generations.

There are several ways to get involved, including to pledge support to the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge. To sign the 2020 Challenge pledge, click here.

For more information, visit:

October 22, 2015Global

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HCWH Supports World Medical Association Call to its National Association Members to Discuss Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Health Care Without Harm today applauded the unanimous decision by delegates gathered in Moscow this past week at the World Medical Association's (WMA) Annual General Assembly to call on its more than 100 constituent member associations to consider divestment from fossil fuels.

The call is a response to the recognized health impacts of fossil fuel energy generation. It follows decisions by the British and Canadian Medical Associations to direct their financial teams to divest from fossil fuels.

"Just as health professionals helped lead the fight against smoking by divesting from tobacco companies, the WMA is asking national medical associations around the world to consider that coal and other fossil fuels may be the new tobacco," said Josh Karliner, International Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm. "The WMA's call is an important step forward to protect public health from local air pollution and global climate change, both of which are caused by fossil fuel combustion."

Dr. Peter Orris, a Professor at the University of Illinois, an Associate member of WMA and the author of its resolution on divestment noted that "while this measure is still under consideration by the WMA’s membership, sending it for discussion by national medical associations recognizes the importance of the issue, and the need for a preventative approach to one of the greatest health threats of our time."

Based on member response, the WMA will complete consideration of its divestment Call at its next General Assembly in 2016.

At the same time, Health Care Without Harm continues to work with international and national health professional groups like WMA, along with hospitals, health systems and health organizations to promote not only divestment, but also investment strategies and public policies that foster a transition from fossil fuels toward clean, healthy renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. 

October 19, 2015Global

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Registration Now Open! Paris Conference on Climate Change and Health Care


Free of charge, limited space.

Traduction instantanée Anglais-Francais / French to English translation provided.

Quand / When

4 Décembre 2015 / December 4, 2015


Cet événement réunira les responsables d’établissements de santé et médicosociaux français, ainsi que des représentants d’établissements venus d’Europe, des États-Unis, d’Asie, d’Afrique et d’Amérique Latine. La journée aura lieu parallèlement aux négociations de la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le climat. Les participants mettront en avant leurs stratégies en matière de réduction de leur empreinte carbone et de leadership dans la promotion de politiques qui protègent la santé publique face au changement climatique.

Organized in parallel with the UN Climate Conference, this event will bring together health care leaders from across Europe and around the world. Representatives from hospitals and health systems in France, Europe, the US, Asia, Africa and Latin America will discuss strategies for reducing their carbon footprint, as well as healthcare leadership initiatives to protect public health from climate change.

Pour accéder au programme de l’événement, cliquez ici / To access the programme of the event, click here

Lieu / Location

Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou, Paris

Co-organisateurs / Co-Organisers

Health Care Without Harm, la Fédération Hospitalière de France (FHF) et la Fédération des établissements hospitaliers et d’aide à la personne privés non lucratifs (FEHAP). Avec le soutien de: Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (APHP).

Health Care Without Harm, the French Hospital Federation (FHF) and the French Federation of Private Non-profit Hospitals (FEHAP). Supporting Organization: Paris Hospital Associtaion (APHP).

Pour plus d’information: [email protected]

For more information: [email protected]

S’inscrire / Register!



Passez à l’action: Défi Climat Santé 2020

Pour protéger la santé locale et mondiale des changements climatiques et de leurs origines, le monde doit s’orienter vers une économie basée sur des énergies propres, saines et renouvelables. En effet, la transition vers une telle économie favoriserait à la fois une amélioration du climat et de la santé publique. En tant que prestataires de soins de santé – hôpitaux, systèmes de santé et organismes de santé publique –, nous reconnaissons que nous pouvons jouer un rôle de leader dans cette transition. Nous nous engageons à faire notre part pour relever le défi posé par les changements climatiques.

Signez l’engagement!

Take Action: 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge

In order to protect local and global health from climate change and its sources, the world needs to move toward an economy based on clean, renewable, healthy energy. Indeed, a transition to a clean energy economy will benefit both the climate and public health. As health care providers—hospitals, health systems and government health institutions—we recognize that we can play a leadership role in this transition. We pledge to do our part to meet the challenge posed by climate change.

Sign the pledge!

October 8, 2015Global

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Why We Need Hospitals to Help Lead the Fight Against Climate Change

Source: Huffington Post

As we approach COP21 in Paris this December, leading health authorities are recognizing climate change as one of the great public health crises of our time. So it's quite the paradox that health care contributes much more than it should to rising global temperatures.

Every year, to simply operate, hospitals must burn through gigatons of fossil fuel energy. This doesn't just contribute to global warming, it also creates the kind of local air pollution that kills seven million people every year. That's more than double the toll of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

It's a vicious and ironic cycle and, there is a pressing need for doctors, nurses, hospitals, and health systems around the world to respond to this emergency.

Many are already stepping up to the plate and forging essential, sustainable solutions. Major U.S. health systems such as Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, and Partners Health Care are taking aggressive steps to reduce their carbon footprint and are leading not just within the health care sector, but are setting an example for private and public sector leaders across the board.

These systems, and others around the world, are implementing energy efficiency measures, investing in clean renewable energy, recycling anesthetic gases, reducing waste, and working to green the supply chain. Kaiser Permanente, for example, recently announced that it will purchase enough renewable energy to provide half of the electricity it uses in California.

Many are also educating their staff and patients on the health impacts of climate change, and some are advocating for policies, like the Obama Administration's clean power plan. Similar initiatives are evolving in countries like Germany, England, France, Sweden, South Africa, China, Chile, and Brazil.

We ourselves created the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, which aims to provide dynamic health care leadership in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Many of the health systems that are working towards this goal with us have come together under the banner of the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge to pledge to protect public health from the negative effects of climate change. Systems representing more than 1,200 hospitals and health centers from every continent are committed to reducing health care carbon emissions, prepare hospitals for the impacts of extreme weather events, and leading the way to a low-carbon future.

This week, on the heels of the UN's adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and as the march toward COP21 continues, the international community has an opportunity to ensure that health care is a top priority in climate change-related discussions. An important step happened today at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2015 Annual Meeting in New York City, where Health Care Without Harm and the Skoll Foundation announced a commitment we are making through CGI to significantly scale up the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge.

We aim to work with 10,000 hospitals and health centers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons a year by 2020. That's equivalent to taking 5.5 million cars off the road, or installing 7,000 wind turbines annually.

This is just a first step. In the coming years we will see a growing number of carbon neutral hospitals that are using 100 percent clean, renewable energy, conserve water and recycling tons of waste.

But greener hospitals won't solve the climate crisis on their own. Ultimately, health care needs to deploy its significant moral, political, and economic influence to help lead a broader societal transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels and to a 21st century economy founded on clean, renewable energy such as solar and wind. Beyond combatting climate change, fostering this energy transition presents a golden opportunity for public health.

Building a clean energy economy can help solve both these problems at the same time. We can reduce the incidence of air-pollution induced asthma, cancer and heart disease, while simultaneously averting devastating health impacts that climate change will cause. Transitioning to a clean energy economy will also result in literally trillions of dollars in health cost savings around the world.

Leading the fight against climate change is the smart thing -- and the right thing -- to do for a sector of society sworn to do no harm.

  • For more information on the commitment unveiled by HCWH at the Clinton Global Initiative, click here.
September 30, 2015Global

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Health Care Commitment to Tackle Climate Change Launched at Clinton Global Initiative

Health Care Without Harm and Skoll Foundation announce a a new effort to reduce health care’s carbon footprint.

Health Care Without Harm, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation, unveiled a commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to reduce health care’s carbon footprint in order to protect public health from climate change.

Health care currently represents 8 percent of U.S. and 5 percent of European greenhouse gas emissions. The CGI commitment sets an ambitious target to mobilize 10,000 hospitals and health centers on every continent in a collective effort to reduce the health sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons annually by 2020. This is equivalent to taking 5.5 million cars off the road or installing 7,000 new wind turbines every year.

“Climate change is an issue that affects the health of our planet and everyone on it,” said Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “We are making this commitment at CGI for two reasons: to achieve sustainable global change at a systems level, while helping broaden discussion and action on climate. Health care is at the core of every human’s well-being. By extension, health professionals are integral to our future, and can help lead the response to one of the most urgent global threats of our time.”

The CGI commitment sets an ambitious target to mobilize 10,000 hospitals and health centers on every continent in a collective effort to reduce the health sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons annually by 2020. This is equivalent to taking 5.5 million cars off the road or installing 7,000 new wind turbines every year.

In this regard, Josh Karliner, Director of Global Projects and the International Team Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm, affirmed in an article posted on the Huffington Post: “As we approach COP21 in Paris this December, leading health authorities are recognizing climate change as one of the great public health crises of our time. So it's quite the paradox that health care contributes much more than it should to rising global temperatures”.

The CGI commitment builds on Health Care Without Harm’s 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge by setting ambitious targets. Participants in the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge already include more than 30 major health systems representing 1,200 hospitals and health centers from around the world, from Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States; amongst other countries.

Many health care systems are committing to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions, often by 30 or 40 percent. Some are moving toward carbon neutrality. Others are advocating for public policies that foster a transition away from fossil fuels and to clean, renewable energy.

“This is just the beginning of a worldwide effort,” said Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm, and a Skoll Social Entrepeneur. “Our commitment at CGI is to scale-up this Challenge so that protecting public health from climate change becomes embedded in health care’s DNA the world over.”

  • For more on the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, clik here.
  • To read the article from the Huffington Post, click here.
September 29, 2015Global

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GGHH Webinar Series | Health and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission Report

Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”, assures the Lancet Commission Report on Health and Climate Change.

This Commission maps out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary policy responses, to ensure the highest attainable standards of health for populations worldwide. For more information and to download the report, click here.


  • Review the history, background and recommendations of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change
  • Discuss case examples of health system implementation of the recommendations

Main Speaker

Nick Watts, the lead author and head of project for the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, will be the main speaker in the upcoming webinar.

Nick also works for the World Health Organization’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, and as director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

His research interests include health system strengthening and reform processes; the application of complexity theory to development economics; and the protection and promotion of public health through sustainable development and climate change mitigation.


GGHH will be hosting two sessions to accommodate a variety of time zones. Both sessions will be recorded and require registration prior to the event.

Session 1 | Tuesday, September 29th: 7 pm Pacific Time Zone (USA), 10 pm Eastern Daylight Time (USA), 11 pm Argentina Time Zone. Wednesday, September 30th: 4 am Central European Time Zone and South Africa Time Zone, 7.45 am Nepal Time Zone, 10 am Philippine Time Zone and China Standard Time Zone, 12 pm Australian Eastern Time Zone. 

Session 2 Wednesday, September 30th: 7 am Pacific Time Zone (USA), 10 am Eastern Daylight Time (USA), 11 am Argentina Time Zone, 4 pm Central European Time Zone and South Africa Time Zone, 7.45 pm Nepal Time Zone and 10 pm Philippine Time Zone and China Standard Time Zone.

Duration: 1 hour

Language: English

Cost: Free of charge.

Those who participate in the entire webinar will receive a Certificate of Attendance by email. When you complete the registration form, please provide your name as you would like it to appear on the Certificate of Attendance.

To watch the tutorials on how to connect audio during the webinar, click here.


  • Josh Karliner: International Team Coordinator and Director of Global Projects, Health Care Without Harm. In this capacity he works to support the development of HCWH’s work in Asia, Africa and Latin America, while also overseeing the organization’s global campaign on climate change, the development of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network and HCWH’s collaboration with WHO to eliminate mercury in health care.
  • Brenna Davis: Director of Sustainability at Virginia Mason, one of the top 25 greenest hospitals in the United States, according to Practice Greenhealth. She is the co-founder and chair of Washington Business for Climate Action, an organization calling for climate action on behalf of over 250 Washington State businesses. She is also the founder of the Pacific Northwest Health Care Sustainability Leaders Roundtable, and serves on the Advisory Board of Huxley College for the Environment, one of the oldest environmental colleges in the United States.
  • Renzo Guinto: Campaigner for the Healthy Energy Initiative of Health Care Without Harm-Asia. He is a physician interested in global health, health systems, and social and environmental determinants of health. He is also co-founder and director of #ReimagineGlobalHealth, a youth think-and-do tank for the world’s health, and is a member of various groups including the University of the Philippines Manila Universal Health Care Study Group, The Lancet-University of Oslo Youth Commission on Global Governance for Health, and the World Health Organization steering committee on transformative health professions education and social determinants of health.
September 22, 2015Global

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HCWH Founder, Gary Cohen, at TEDxMadrid Talks About Environmental Health

Gary Cohen, president and founder of Health Care Without Harm, was invited to give a talk on environmental health for in the seventh edition of TEDxMadrid on September 12th in Madrid, Spain.

Gary Cohen explains how hospitals around the world are transforming from once being dangerous places that were contributing to the toxicity of our environment, to being places where miracles can happen.

This year, the event will celebrate the adventurous spirit of the amateur in different areas of knowledge: science and technology; in creative, productive, or entrepreneurial activity; and in solving the world's problems. Because it is in the garages of mind where new formulas that save lives or change design.

Watch Gary's talk (Note his talk starts at the 56 minute mark)


This is a summary of the talk by Verity Harrison (@larebe40 |


September 17, 2015Global

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Video | The Bliss of Ignorance


Through first-hand testimony The Bliss of Ignorance investigates South Africa's complex relationship with one of the country's most abundant resources: coal.

With experts predicting the creation of a "sick" generation in the Mpumalanga region (which is home to 12 of the world's largest power stations), this documentary looks at the impact of South Africa's energy policy - particularly the support for Eskom's coal-fired power stations - on public health. In February 2015 energy giants Eskom were granted five years grace from complying with atmospheric emission standards, making this film ever more timely and relevant.

Set against the wider climate change debate, The Bliss of Ignorance highlights how the mining and burning of coal affects the environment; polluting air and valuable water resources in a water-scarce country. In 2012, 17,000 people in Carolina, Mpumalanga were left without water because their local supply was polluted by acid mine drainage.

While making The Bliss of Ignorance the filmmaker visited Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town interviewing scientists, lawyers, professors, campaigners, doctors, university lecturers and representatives from Eskom. He also lived in a township in Mpumalanga to learn first hand from residents about the main health impacts and how pollution is affecting their lives and the lives of their children.

The Bliss of Ignorance is a production for Friends of the Earth International and groundWork.


[email protected] or [email protected] 

August 14, 2015Global

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