A pathway to zero emissions for healthcare

3 November, 2020

The UK National Health Service (NHS) has published a ground breaking report on how healthcare can reduce its carbon emissions to half of 2010 levels by 2030, and to net zero by 2050.This report is very welcome and should be emulated by countries all over the world - indeed it will be much easier to reach the targets if countries work together and with WHO to reduce their climate impact. The report can be read in full at the following link


and there is an analysis in the BMJ dated 17th October


Key action points of the report are listed here:

1. Our care: By developing a framework to evaluate carbon reduction associated with new models of care being considered and implemented as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

2. Our medicines and supply chain: By working with our suppliers to ensure that all of them meet or exceed our commitment on net zero emissions before the end of the decade.

3. Our transport and travel: By working towards road-testing for what would be the world’s first zero-emission ambulance by 2022, with a shift to zero- emission vehicles by 2032 feasible for the rest of the fleet.

4. Our innovation: By ensuring the digital transformation agenda aligns with our ambition to be a net zero health service, and implementing a net zero horizon scanning function to identify future pipeline innovations.

5. Our hospitals: By supporting the construction of 40 new ‘net zero hospitals’ as part of the government’s Health Infrastructure Plan with a new Net Zero Carbon Hospital Standard.

6. Our heating and lighting: By completing a £50 million LED lighting replacement programme, which, expanded across the entire NHS, would improve patient comfort and save over £3 billion during the coming three decades.

7. Our adaptation efforts: By building resilience and adaptation into the heart of our net zero agenda, and vice versa, with the third Health and Social Care Sector Climate Change Adaptation Report in the coming months.

8. Our values and our governance: By supporting an update to the NHS Constitution to include the response to climate change, launching a new national programme For a greener NHS, and ensuring that every NHS organisation has a board-level net zero lead, making it clear that this is a key responsibility for all our staff.

Tony Waterston

HIFA profile: Tony Waterston is a retired consultant paediatrician who worked mainly in the community in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He spent 6 years working in Zambia and Zimbabwe and directed the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Diploma in Palestinian Child Health teaching programme in the occupied Palestinian territories. He was an Editor of the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics and is on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Social Pediatrics. His academic interests are child poverty, advocacy for child health and children's rights. He is currently the lead moderator of CHIFA (HIFA's sister forum on child health and rights). www.chifa.org He is also a member of the HIFA Steering Group.

www.hifa.org/people/steering-group www.hifa.org/support/members/tony

Tony.Waterston AT newcastle.ac.uk