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Healthcare system leadership and climate change: five lessons for improving health systems resiliency
  1. Jeff Tochkin1,
  2. John Richmond2,
  3. Attila Hertelendy3
  1. 1Canadian Healthcare Emergency Management Study, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Information Systems and Business Analytics, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
  1. Correspondence to Mr Jeff Tochkin, University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research, 30 Regent St, Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield S1 4DA, UK; tochkinjeff{at}gmail.com

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Introduction

Global climate emergencies have increased in frequency and complexity,1 2 leading to greater disruption and increasing economic consequences.3 4 Climate change is responsible for driving this increasing exposure to extreme events, impacting infectious disease transmission, and undermining people’s mental health and livelihoods.5 As highlighted in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)6 climate change report, ‘climate change is already affecting every inhabited region across the globe with human influence contributing to many observed changes in weather and climate extremes (p.13).’ Meteorological events such as heat and cold waves, drought and flooding are on a steep incline7 and have directly or indirectly affected over 2 billion people across the globe.8 Human health and the health of the environment are inextricably linked.7 The increase of disasters caused by climate change has a myriad of impacts on human health which causes further strain on global health systems.5 To date, a ‘climate emergency’ has been declared in over 2000 jurisdictions around the world covering over 1 billion people.9

Given this, it is quite concerning and important to highlight that health services themselves are large contributors to climate change,10 accounting for 4.4% of the world’s net greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, health services in Australia, Japan, Canada and the UK11–13 are all far above those averages. The upward trajectory is also of concern. In the USA alone,13 healthcare emissions rose by 6% from 2010 to 2018.

This highlights the need for a call to action for leaders of healthcare systems to not only consider emissions generated by their own operations, but also put pressure on policymakers to take action, including highlighting the link to health and implications of continued use of fossil fuels. Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) measures are crucial for moving towards more …

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @RichmondReport, @drhertelendy

  • Contributors JT, JR and AH contributed to the design and implementation of the commentary to the analysis of the results and to the writing of the manuscript. JT led the writing with JR and AH contributing to forming the arguments.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.