The Energy Initiative at Nurses Drawdown encourages nurses to reduce their individual consumption of fossil fuel power while also advocating for green energy solutions in all sectors of their lives, from individual, to community, all the way to the international level.
Currently, the burning of fossil fuels for power production contributes to 25% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. The health care system is also a major contributor of carbon emissions with the U.S. Department of Energy identifying it as the second most energy-intensive sector.
Consumption of fossil fuel power drives climate change and in turn, disease. Greenhouse gases contribute to respiratory diseases directly in areas with high levels of pollution. However, the ultimate threat to human health is by driving a climate system that raises global temperatures, causes droughts, extreme weather, and famine. In order to protect public health globally, it is critical that we reduce energy consumption and switch to greener energy sources. Nurses Drawdown is committed to inspiring nurses to lead by example in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing carbon emissions by use of Project Drawdown solutions can have a significant effect on public health...and could prevent as many as 153 million premature pollution-related deaths globally every year.
Drawdown science has demonstrated an urgent need to reduce consumption of fossil-fuel-produced energy globally. Their research has identified significant contributing sources and produced dozens of solutions such as utilizing solar, wind, ocean (and more!) energy sources as well innovative solutions such as methane digestion, where the methane produced by the composting of organic waste is converted into biogas for fuel and fertilizer. The core of every solution is an aim to enhance efficiency, shift production of energy, and improve the energy system as a whole. Project Drawdown’s ultimate energy goal is to reduce global carbon emissions by 200.6-440.2 gigatons by 2050.
Reducing carbon emissions by use of Project Drawdown solutions can have a significant effect on public health. A 2018 Duke University Study projected that reducing carbon emissions by just 180 gigatons would decrease global temperature changes by 25%. This also means cleaner air, which could prevent as many as 153 million premature pollution-related deaths globally every year.
The deleterious effects of inflated carbon emissions in the atmosphere disproportionately affect vulnerable populations and those living in developing nations. One way to both reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of life in developing nations is providing solar power. Click here for a list of 40 companies that are bringing solar to developing and rural communities globally.
Read more about the science of this drawdown activity and the impacts of solutions identified by Project Drawdown here.
Nurses can help lead the energy revolution by utilizing and advocating for greener energy consumption. The “Precautionary Principle” of nursing guides practices that are environmentally safe and healthy. The first step for nurses is to make environmentally conscious energy choices to lead by example in their homes and among their peers. Nurses are not only trusted educators, but the core of every hospital. Nurses can advocate in their hospitals and clinics to switch to greener energy sources especially while there is a boom in construction and renovation at healthcare centers. Organizations like Healthcare Without Harm are working to build tools and sustainability plans for hospitals to decrease their carbon emissions. Check out the following links for guides for sustainability and green energy in healthcare so that you can advocate with science and strategy:
- Global Green and Healthy Hospitals strives for “innovation, ingenuity, and investment to transform the health sector and foster a healthy future for people and the planet”
- Becker’s Hospital Review’s step by step guide for beginning a green initiative
- Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence’s report on sustainability and energy efficiency in hospitals presents case studies of hospitals that have successfully switched to greener energy and discusses sustainability opportunities and steps towards achieving such
Nurses can also push for divestment from fossil fuels in their hospitals. Many companies and hospitals hold stock in fossil fuel based companies, which contribute to detrimental climate change and carbon emissions. Divestment is a way for hospitals to demonstrate their ethics and refuse to support companies that are hurting our planet and our health. Nurses can help advocate for divestment in their hospitals. Many colleges and companies have already divested due to the advocacy of students and employees–now it’s time for nurses to let their hospitals know that they do not support investment in fossil fuel companies. To learn more about divestment in hospitals check out Healthcare Without Harm’s Divestment Q & A.
Key Areas for Action
Nurses around the world are invited to join the Nurses Drawdown movement
by taking personal and professional action in five key areas: