CommonSpirit Announces Industry-Leading Commitment to Reach Net-Zero by 2040


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One of America’s largest health systems pledges urgent action to address climate change, an underlying cause of health inequities.


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(Chicago, IL – November 2, 2021) - CommonSpirit Health today announced an industry-leading commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 with an interim target to cut operational emissions in half by 2030.  As one of the nation’s largest, most diverse and leading health systems, CommonSpirit’s pledge will impact the climate crisis by delivering more sustainable, resilient, and climate-smart health care across its 21-state footprint.

“We believe there is an unbreakable connection between the health of our planet and the health of our people,” said Lloyd H. Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit. “Our net-zero commitment supports our focus on addressing the underlying causes of health inequities, from access to clean air and safe drinking water to the effects of extreme weather, with a goal of creating healthier communities for all.”

CommonSpirit’s net-zero by 2040 target was shared at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, and is in line with US goals under the Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate. The goals outlined in the Paris Agreement seek to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Reaching these goals will prevent the worsening of the human health impacts of climate change, especially among the vulnerable.   

“Urgent action is needed now to reverse climate change,” said Shelly Schlenker, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer for CommonSpirit. “We are committing to an ambitious, science-based goal that leverages advances in the pace and scale of renewable infrastructure.”  

CommonSpirit’s goals utilize a baseline from 2019, when the system was founded through the merger of Dignity Health and CHI. The organization will achieve its goals through a comprehensive climate action plan that also includes:

  • Leveraging new energy efficient technologies,
  • Engaging with supply chain companies to support them in reducing their emissions,
  • Evaluating investment portfolios for climate impacts, and
  • Using credible offsets only where emissions cannot be reduced through other measures, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy procurement.

The health system is committing to strict accountability. As a member of Health Care Without Harm’s Health Care Climate Climate Challenge, CommonSpirit recently joined the United Nations-backed Race to Zero campaign, the largest alliance of non-government organizations committed to reducing climate pollution, and will publicly report on its progress and share its learnings along the way. CommonSpirit also represents the industry with CEO Lloyd H. Dean as co-chair of America Is All In, a coalition of leaders in support of climate action in the United States.

“Health care institutions are some of the largest contributors to climate change today. The U.S. health care system contributes 10% of the nation’s carbon emissions and 9% of harmful non-greenhouse air pollutants,” said Dean. “Our plan aims to move the entire sector forward by working with supply chain and our wider stakeholders to support their reduction in emissions.”

CommonSpirit has a long-standing commitment to leadership through innovative climate-smart policies, practices and public health investments.  In 2020, the organization began the process of retro-commissioning its acute care facilities to provide an immediate impact on energy reduction and has initiated renewable energy initiatives, including the use of solar.

“In Laudato Si, Pope Francis called upon all of us to care for our common home to create a better tomorrow for all, especially the poor and vulnerable,” said Sr. Mary Ellen Leciejewski, System Vice President for Environmental Sustainability for CommonSpirit. “Caring for Earth is part of caring for the people who live here.”

About CommonSpirit Health

CommonSpirit Health is a nonprofit, Catholic health system dedicated to advancing health for all people. It was created in February 2019 through the combination of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. With a team of approximately 125,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, CommonSpirit Health operates 139 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites across 21 states. In FY 2020, CommonSpirit had combined revenues of nearly $29.6 billion and provided $4.6 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed government programs. Learn more at www.commonspirit.org.

Publish Date: 

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

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