Cardinal Health signs Health Sector Climate Pledge
By Megan Maltenfort, VP, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
At Cardinal Health, we are mission-driven to improve lives every day, to work together to make a positive difference for our customers and their patients, for our communities, and for our environment.
Cardinal Health is a critical link in the healthcare supply chain around the world and in that role, we have an opportunity to drive environmental change. As a whole, the healthcare industry contributes about 8.5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S., and about 4.6% globally, according to the Commonwealth Fund. As the healthcare sector and other organizations around the world work to lower the industry’s carbon footprint and create a cleaner world, recent policy developments have the potential to accelerate progress.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022
This federal legislation, signed into law in August, is the single largest investment – $370 billion – in clean energy solutions in U.S. history. The IRA is designed to dramatically grow the U.S. clean energy economy, reduce costs, and achieve a 40% reduction in GHG emissions in the U.S. by 2030 (over 2005 emission levels). The goal of the legislation is to enable businesses to act with a greater sense of urgency to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
The legislation provides tax credits, grants and other financial incentives for companies and individuals to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles and low-carbon fuel. Congress intends for these financial incentives to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage solutions by lowering the cost of project development.
The IRA makes renewables and other climate technology more accessible and affordable across the U.S., to encourage companies of all sizes to invest. At Cardinal Health, we intend to scale our own clean energy and energy efficiency solutions to make progress toward our public climate goal of reducing Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50% by fiscal 2030 (from a 2019 base year).
The IRA also has the potential to improve public health outcomes. By shifting the economy away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy, the IRA will cut emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides which contribute to poor health conditions – including heart disease and respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis – particularly among low-income communities and minority communities. By reducing these pollutants, emergency room visits and hospital admissions, childhood asthma attacks and lost work and lost school days may decline. These health improvements could add up to $9 billion in public health benefits annually by 2030, according to analysis by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The 27th Conference of the Parties
In other climate news, this week leaders from around the world are gathered in Egypt for the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to work toward accelerating climate action. COP meetings have been held (nearly) every year, beginning in 1992, when leaders from 154 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), committing to reducing GHG emissions.
COP meetings bring together politicians, diplomats, representatives of national governments and others to discuss the year’s progress toward fighting climate change and new ways forward. Last year, for example, COP26 participants agreed to accelerate the phase-out of coal power, and to update their plans for cutting carbon emissions to align with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 recommendations of keeping the world below 1.5°C of warming.
The Health Sector Climate Pledge
U.S. officials at COP27 today announced the signatory organizations of the new White House/Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Sector Climate Pledge. The pledge originated this past spring, when HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra made a public call to action for healthcare stakeholders to fight climate change, saying, “Every stakeholder group in America must step up, and collaboration across the public and private sector is key...Reducing emissions and fighting climate change’s catastrophic and chronic impact on vulnerable people is key to building a healthier nation.”
Cardinal Health is among those signatories, agreeing to:
Cardinal Health is already well on the way toward fulfilling these commitments. As noted above, Cardinal Health set a Scope 1 and 2 GHG reduction goal in 2021, and committed to setting a Science-Based Target (SBT) for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
There is much work to be done. I am proud to be leading Cardinal Health’s ESG efforts and I look forward to sharing our progress in the months and years to come.
As VP of ESG, Megan Maltenfort is responsible for guiding a cross-functional ESG working group of leaders from across the company in building and driving an ambitious enterprise-wide ESG strategy. She has deep expertise in sustainability. Prior to joining Cardinal Health, she served as Director of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at the Campbell Soup Company, where she co-led the creation of Campbell’s enterprise-wide ESG strategy; external corporate responsibility reporting; stakeholder management with investors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and customers; and more.