For more than a year, the world’s doctors, nurses, hospitals and health systems have been on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. Many have served heroically as first responders, care givers, truth tellers and anchors of resilience in communities beset by the pandemic.

A growing number of these leaders are now recognizing and speaking out about another major health crisis that looms on the horizon. The growing climate emergency threatens to make the COVID-19 pandemic pale by comparison—impacting the health and well-being of nearly everyone, all across the globe for generations to come.

Ironically, health care, whose mission it is to heal, is a major contributor to this crisis that is making the planet and the people who inhabit it sick. Health care contributes to more than 4.4 percent of net global greenhouse gas emissions, making the sector, if it were a country, the fifth largest climate polluter on the planet.

In the vanguard of the health care response are nearly 40 institutions collectively representing more than 3,000 healthcare facilities in 17 countries, who have just joined the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero. These hospitals and health systems have made public commitments to halving emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by no later than 2050.

This first wave of Race to Zero health care institutions spans six continents and represents diverse organizations including individual hospitals, private health systems, and provincial health departments from both developed and developing countries. They are showing that you can deliver care and take on climate change at the same time. They are articulating a vision of healthy people on a healthy planet.

Read the full article about health systems and climate change by Gonzalo Muñoz and Josh Karliner at Skoll Foundation.