Why it matters
The impact of our changing climate on health
Our health and our climate are intrinsically linked. Recent years have reported the hottest weather on record and unprecedented flooding events. In the Southeast alone the 2020 Heatwaves caused 530 excess deaths – more than any other region.
The part we play in healthcare
The largest emitter of CO2 in the public sector, the NHS' carbon footprint is 4% of our national total footprint.
1 in 20 vehicles on our roads are on NHS business, significantly adding to air pollution as well as climate change; both having a negative impact on our health.
We're building a greener NHS together
In October 2020, the NHS became the world's first health service to commit to reaching Net Zero Carbon, in response to the real threat to health posed by climate change.
All Trusts and Integrated Care Boards must achieve Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2040. The Greener NHS programme through NHS England was set up to support all NHS organisations in meeting this target.
What is Net Zero?
Net Zero means we balance out the carbon we create with the carbon we remove (known as offsetting). The priority is to reduce the amount of carbon we create to as little as practically possible, so we are offsetting as a last resort.
The difference between direct and indirect emissions
Across the NHS we are committed to achieving Net Zero Carbon for our direct emissions by 2040 - and for our indirect emissions by 2045.
Direct emissions are those that we can control such as energy use, travel and medical gases.
Indirect emissions are those that we can't directly control within the NHS but must work in partnership with suppliers and others to reduce such as patient travel to healthcare sites, the carbon impact of our pharmaceuticals or plastic packaging on supplies.
You can find out more in the NHS England climate change strategy, Delivering a Net Zero NHS.