The pandemic highlighted a number of critical concerns. With the climate emergency standing out. In this discussion with key leaders from the U.S. and UK health infrastructure, we explore how governments and industry are confronting climate change by making bold pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing sustainability more broadly.
Moderated by Dana O'Brien, Deputy Chief Operating Officer & Chief Sustainability Officer, Biotechnology Innovation Organization
- Victor Dzau, MD, President, National Academy of Medicine
- Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD, President & Chief Executive Officer, Biotechnology Innovation Organization
- Rohin Mhatre, PhD, Senior Vice President, Product and Technical Development, Biogen
- Lord David Prior, Chair, NHS England
“The great similarity between the COVID pandemic and climate change...we know it’s happening, or we know it may happen, but we do nothing about it until it’s right on top of us. And the lack of preparedness...ought to ring a huge wake up call for us all,” said Lord David Prior to open up the conversation. “You need to prepare the roof when the sun is shining,” not during the storm!
The other panelists highlighted that inequity is a big factor as well that was highlighted in the pandemic.
They discussed the importance of moving quickly to address climate change, not just with the technologies that exist today, but in planning ahead and developing new, inspired methods.
Rohin Mhatre said that even though Biogen has achieved carbon neutrality and did so many years ago, the real goal is emission-free. “Get away from fossil fuels, enhance and utilize clean energy through the entire operation.”
As Michelle McMurry-Heath noted, many of these solutions are in the biotech sector.
The health sector is responsible for a large chunk of greenhouse gas emissions, Victor Dzau pointed out. So solutions have to come from this industry coming together, set goals, and develop new strategies. Everyone has to follow the example set by Biogen.
“We need regulatory agencies to prioritize those innovations.” - Victor Dzau, MD, President, National Academy of Medicine.
Dana O’Brien added that it’s important for society to think outside of holding ag and environment companies responsible, but expanding the coalition and reviewing this issue from a public policy perspective.
“When you go back to your companies, start the internal dialogue about how you can do things in a more sustainable way. Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week or next year. Let’s all start today, this week, this month, and have the conversations. Can we do our work in a more sustainable way? Because it’s so critically important to health and that is at the mission and heart of so many of our companies.” - Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD, President & Chief Executive Officer, Biotechnology Innovation Organization