Kaiser Permanente, the US’s largest integrated, nonprofit health system, has become the first health care system in the United States to achieve carbon-neutral status.
Kaiser reached this milestone through a variety of actions, including the widespread use of solar panels, long-term purchases of renewable energy, electric vehicle chargers and investment in carbon offsets to counter the impact of unavoidable emissions from the natural gas power that heats and cools its hospitals.
“As wildfires rage across the Western U.S., we can all see that the health impacts of climate change are not abstract or far in the future — they are here today, and they disproportionately impact the most vulnerable among us,” said Greg A. Adams, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “We must recognize, for example, that the pollution that leads to respiratory illnesses and is linked to higher mortality rates from COVID-19 disproportionately impacts Black and low-income communities. In order to create a healthier, more sustainable path forward, we must address the inseparable issues of climate and human health as one.”
“As physicians, climate change is absolutely in our lane — let’s educate ourselves, our patients, and our communities,” said Imelda Dacones, MD, president and CEO of Northwest Permanente Medical Group. “As a world, we will develop vaccines and effective medicines to treat the COVID-19 pandemic. Climate change, on the other hand, is a public health crisis where there will be no point of return if we don’t act today.”
Certified by the CarbonNeutral Protocol, the milestone comes as Kaiser Permanente has for decades embraced renewable energy and embedded sustainable practices throughout its business operations. The certification applies to its Scope 1 emissions (direct emissions from sources it owns or controls) and Scope 2 emissions (emissions attributable to the electricity it consumes), as well as select Scope 3 emissions (emissions from sources it does not directly own or control), including corporate travel.
The health system has been recognised among the top 10 organisations + No. 1 health care organisation in the US for solar energy capacity, according to SEIA.
It should be noted that Kaiser Permanente is not currently a member of the Race to Zero campaign. It remains to be seen how their strategy will evolve.