Collectively termed subnationals, numerous academic institutions, states, cities and other local governments, companies, NGOS and other entities across the country have independently pledged to go green or become climate neutral. Ironically, the industry most lagging in this effort is health care despite the fact that, after the food industry, health care is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide equivalents at over 650 million metric tons annually, or approximately 10% of total US greenhouse gas emissions. Also too, despite the fact, per research published in PLOS One in 2016 by Mt. Sinai researchers, the health harm caused by the health care industry's carbon emissions causes upwards of 98,000 deaths per year – just in the US. (The US health care industry also substantially lags behind other prominent US industries in publicly reporting its carbon emissions.) Two weeks ago, however, Kaiser Permanente, the US's largest integrated, non-profit healthcare provider, became the first provider to achieve carbon neutral status. In its September 14th press released announcing the achievement, Kaiser stated it had erased its annual 800,000 ton carbon footprint. "As physicians, the press release stated further, "climate change is absolutely in our lane.” (Listeners will recall I interviewed Kaiser's Kathy Gerwig about her organizations climate neutral efforts in May of 2019. This is my 14th climate crisis-related interview.)
During this 30 minute interview, Mr. Whitman provides an overview of his organization and its success to date, e.g., number of companies his organization has certified over the past year and number he expects to reach this coming year. He describes how climate neutral status is achieved by satisfying Scope 1 through Scope 3 criteria. He explains corporate motivations to achieve climate neutral status and the financial costs of doing so (they're in sum largely dependent on type of company) and he offers policy suggestions for faster or more rapid adoption of renewable energy.
Mr. Austin Whitman is currently CEO of Climate Neutral. Mr. Whitman has served as both Vice President of Climate Change Capital, and as Vice President of M.J. Bradley & Associates, two leaders in climate-focused investing and asset management. In 2019, Austin founded Climate Neutral, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, aiming to accelerate the de-carbonization of global emissions through their achievable certification framework. The framework certifies brands who measure their carbon footprint, offset it with verified offsets to net-zero, and create future reduction strategies.
Information on Climate Neutral is at: https://www.climateneutral.org/
The PLOS One article is at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0157014
Kaiser's September 14 press release is at: https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/community-health/news/first-carbon-neutral-health-system-in-us