Providence Health Care’s Director of Research and Knowledge Translation Aggie Black realized she had an opportunity to use her position as a health care leader to support bolder environmental initiatives. Though she made sustainable choices in her personal life — including driving less frequently, eating less meat and installing solar panels on her roof — she knew more could be done to address the ongoing climate emergency. In her professional life, joining the Green+Leaders program and being a part of the newly formed Sustainability Committee at Providence Health Care, have allowed Aggie to advance sustainability practices within the health system.
Leveraging her voice as a trusted clinician, Aggie has rallied alongside other nurses, physicians and concerned health providers to urge others to take meaningful action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For Aggie, large actions against climate change are both a personal and professional priority. The health care sector is responsible for between 5 to 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a contribution for which she thinks all health care providers, and especially health care leadership, need to take responsibility.
As health care providers, we are committed to healing and helping, and we should be leaders in addressing the climate crisis. I want to encourage other health care providers to use their voices as trusted professionals to advocate for bold climate action
Aggie firmly believes all nurses and clinicians can have a powerful impact against climate change at both the professional and legislative level. She stresses that there are plenty of ways health care practitioners can take action in their workplaces, including small steps, such as printing less or using recycled paper, or bigger initiatives like pushing for health care buildings to rely on clean electricity rather than fossil fuels.
Achieving these initiatives, big and small, relies on the support of health care leadership — and working both collectively and collaboratively. Aggie sees her commitment to environmental advocacy, and supporting the same passion in her colleagues, as an easy extension of her directorial responsibilities to nurture her clinicians’ curiosity, enthusiasm and pride for their work.
“Large actions are what is needed if we are to truly address climate change,” says Aggie, undaunted. “’Action is the antidote to despair,’ is a Joan Baez quote I return to. For me, ‘climate action is the best antidote to climate despair.’”