With the NHS currently responsible for 4% of England’s total carbon footprint,5 ambitious goals have been set out to deliver a net zero NHS by5:
- 2040 for all care related activities – making the NHS the first net zero health system in the world5 (the NHS Carbon Footprint)
- 2045 for the entire scope of NHS emissions (the NHS Carbon Footprint Plus)
The overarching NHS Net Zero strategy sets out these key targets, along with identifying the main areas for improvement across the organisation, which include: emissions from estates and facilities, travel and transport, the supply chain, and even specific medicines including inhalers and anaesthetic gasses.
On a more local level, NHS trusts and ICSs will then create their own ‘Green Plan’,6 setting out more specific goals for how they intend to support the wider NHS strategy. Ultimately, this trickle-down effect will influence decisions made around the care options available to the individual patient.
While this may be a controversial thought, not only is the limiting of global warming for the benefit of our environment, extreme climate change has the potential to cause harm to human health. This includes exacerbating health conditions such as respiratory or cardiovascular disease, along with increasing the risk of injuries due to extreme weather events.7