For the last 10 years the NHS have taken steps to reduce its impact on climate change, however there is more that they can do. Currently 4% of England’s total carbon footprint comes from the NHS. 

Earlier this year The NHS launched the campaign For a greener NHS and they aim to be the first health service to be carbon neutral by 2045. 

The NHS have two targets

  • for the emissions we control directly (the NHS Carbon Footprint), net zero by 2040, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2028 to 2032
  • for the emissions we can influence (our NHS Carbon Footprint Plus), net zero by 2045, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039.

Last month The NHS announced its plans to develop and test the world’s first hydrogen-electric hybrid double-crewed ambulance by 2022. They hope to follow this by rolling out zero-emissions vehicles across the rest of its fleet in years to come. 

All NHS trusts will be required to have a green travel plan. This should aim to encourage staff and patients to reduce vehicle use. Making the move away from cars and towards walking, cycling or using public transport.

Some immediate steps that will be taken to decarbonise.

The NHS will work with suppliers to ensure they all meet their commitment. Using their purchasing power to influence change.

By utilising the digital transformation that COVID-19 has created. During lockdown the NHS estimates nearly 60 million miles of travelling has been avoided. This could mean permanent use of online GP appointments.

The NHS will be supporting plans for 40 new ‘Net Zero hospitals’, as part of the Government’s Health Infrastructure Plan.

They will also complete a £50 million LED lighting replacement programme, which will save £3 billion during the next few decades. 

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive says it is not enough for the NHS to treat the problems caused by air pollution and climate change such as asthma and strokes, we need to play our part in tackling them at the source.

The NHS’ approach to going carbon neutral will adapt and improve with increasing level of ambition. 


Read more about Delivering a Net Zero National Health Service.


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