Today the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) joined the Biden administration in a White House event with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to pledge meaningful action to decarbonize the health care sector and make health care facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change. David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC president and CEO, and Janis M. Orlowski, MD, AAMC chief health care officer, represented the AAMC at the event.
As part of the pledge, the AAMC has committed to meeting the Biden administration’s climate goal to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The White House event offered a sector-wide display of cooperation between the AAMC, its private sector peers, and federal health systems.
“We are honored to have been invited to the White House and join leaders from across the health care sector in pledging to work together to decarbonize health care and protect human health from climate change,” said Skorton. “Climate change significantly contributes to health inequities, affecting public health across our country, and we all have a stake in addressing it.”
The AAMC is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Action Collaborative on Decarbonizing the U.S. Health Sector. Skorton serves on the steering committee and is co-lead of the Health Professional Education and Communication Working Group in collaboration with Alison J. Whelan, MD, AAMC chief academic officer. Launched in 2021, the NAM Climate Collaborative is a public-private partnership of leaders from across the health sector committed to addressing the sector’s environmental impact while strengthening its sustainability and resilience. Recognizing the intersection between climate change and health, the Climate Collaborative provides a neutral platform for its participants to align around collective goals and actions for decarbonization, based on evidence shared solutions, and a commitment to improving health equity.
The AAMC was pleased to join the health sector climate pledge, which was developed by the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of HHS under the assistant secretary for health, in conjunction with the White House. 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.
“Climate change has a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged and underserved communities, creating more frequent and intense periods of extreme heat, wildfires, flooding, and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions,” Orlowski said. “The AAMC is working with our member institutions across the country to ensure that all health care organizations—from large academic medical centers to smaller hospitals—have the financial resources, support, and staff to make the kind of sustainable changes necessary to decrease medicine’s carbon footprint.”