March 25, 2022
Climate change both directly and indirectly affects the health of people CHAI serves. Extreme heat, natural disasters, social unrest, insufficient food supplies, and disease are some of the consequences projected to ravage global health in coming decades, exceeding the human cost of deadly pandemics like COVID-19. The disproportionate impact climate change will have on low-income populations also threatens to worsen existing inequities and access to health services.
Health programs themselves also contribute to climate change via emissions in procurement and service delivery. Research indicates global emissions from the pharmaceutical industry are more significant than those of the automotive sector, even though it is a smaller market.
Predictable health challenges will arise as climate change continues to progress. Together with our government partners, CHAI helps countries assess how their health systems must adapt to a changing climate to provide their people with the care they need. We work with policy makers to implement these adaptations to build fundamentally resilient systems that ensure vulnerabilities are proactively addressed. CHAI is also exploring ways environmental costs within the pharmaceutical market should be factored into consumers’ decision-making, which can create incentives for suppliers to optimize production and reduce their impact on the environment.
Internally, we are revising our operations and procedures to better serve the climate. This includes building offsetting into all new proposal budgets and updating guidance on travel and other ways to reduce emissions as we execute our work.
CHAI and our partners have created Climate Accountability in Development, a carbon coalition to create a smooth path for global health and development organizations to reach carbon neutrality. This means reducing emissions where we can and offsetting those that are unavoidable to the point where our offsets cancel our emissions. As part of our membership in this organization, CHAI has committed to reach carbon neutrality by 2025 and a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.
The coalition identifies best practices for measuring emissions, reduces travel and other carbon-heavy activities, and offsets members’ carbon footprints. The coalition has conducted rigorous baseline assessments of our carbon footprints using a common, replicable approach, and will be updating these measurements annually. The coalition plans to act as a buyers’ club. We will conduct aggregated purchasing of offsets as a heavyweight buyer in the carbon offset marketplace. Buying carbon offsets as a group, rather than individually, is more efficient and will allow us to use our market shaping expertise to steer demand toward higher quality offsets.