White Paper on Climate and Ecological Crisis

Healthcare plays a crucial role in society, but can also have unintended consequences on the environment, which can then negatively affect health. This is referred to as the environment-healthcare cycle. Healthcare has an enormous carbon footprint, contributing approximately 5% of global emissions, and is thus a major contributor to the climate and ecological crisis that our planet is now facing.1 Climate change and its related disasters cause people to seek emergency medical care. Staff working in emergency departments must, therefore, be able to recognize and treat patients with climate-related conditions. Staff should also be mindful that simple steps can reduce their own contribution to climate change.

This white paper will review the effects of climate change on human health, the inequitable distribution of these negative effects, delineate how healthcare is harming the environment, and provide steps that can be taken to minimize healthcare’s carbon footprint.