December 1, 2023
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 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. The goal is to 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.
CHAI completed its first offset purchase in 2022, covering a portion of emissions from 2021. Through CHAI’s efforts at working with existing donors and building offsets into new grant proposals, the number of CHAI donors allowing for grant funding to be put towards offsets has grown in 2022. We are in the process of planning our next offset purchase, focusing on accredited programs that benefit countries where CHAI works.