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How the U.S. health care system impacts climate change

A factory emitting smoke with New York City in the background. Photo: Kena Betancur/Corbis via Getty Images

Axios' David Nather asks and answers a good question: What does the health care industry have to do with climate change?

The answer: It turns out the U.S. health care system is the 7th largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, according to the Commonwealth Fund — which is why the health care foundation says the system should do more to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The group points out that Kaiser Permanente has already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 29% over the last 10 years, largely through the use of solar power and other environmental initiatives.
  • Outside the U.S., Britain’s National Health Service is another model — it’s working on cutting its emissions, too.

The catch: The health care industry is diverse and is rarely on the same page on anything, let alone an issue that’s not directly related to health care. But the industry should consider climate change a health care issue, according to Commonwealth — because events like extreme heat and cold, as well as the weather disasters we’re seeing, “take a major toll on health.”

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