World’s largest Catholic health system joins Health Care Climate Challenge

Ascension Health

The nation’s largest nonprofit health system and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension, has joined the Health Care Climate Challenge and signed the “We Are Still In” pledge.

Already a demonstrated leader in the area of energy efficiency, meeting its Better Buildings Challenge goal three years ahead of schedule and reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1 million tons, Ascension is now committing to a broader climate goal. When joining the Health Care Climate Challenge, participating hospitals and health systems commit to implementing the three pillars of climate-smart health care:

  1.    Mitigation – Reduce health care’s own carbon footprint.
  2.    Resilience – Prepare for the impacts of extreme weather and the shifting burden of disease.
  3.    Leadership – Educate staff and the public about climate and health and promote policies to protect public health from climate change.

"Climate change is a global health emergency that disproportionately impacts the poor and vulnerable," said Lois Sechrist, Ascension environmental stewardship program manager. "As a health care leader, Ascension became a founding member of the Health Care Climate Council to address the health impacts of climate change and to help our facilities become anchors for resilient communities. This is in line with our quadruple aim to improve health outcomes, enhance patient and provider experience, and make health care delivery more affordable, as well as Ascension's Mission to improve the health of individuals and communities."

Ascension is in the process of setting goals to meet the Climate Challenge criteria and will be implementing the identified climate solutions through their robust Environmental Stewardship Program and active and engaged hospital green teams.

In addition to committing to the Health Care Climate Challenge, Ascension has joined with other leading Catholic health systems in the United States, including Catholic Health Initiatives, Dignity Health, Mercy Health, and Providence St. Joseph Health, in signing the cross-sectoral We Are Still In pledge. In doing so, Ascension has committed to honor the Paris Agreement. The historic climate accord has been praised by Pope Francis who has called on Catholics worldwide to work together to solve climate change.