NHS announces plans to become carbon neutral by 2040

Using green vehicles including road-testing a fully electric ambulance is just one of the suggested changes.

Sarah Jane
3 October 2020
Clinical waste bin

NHS organisations will appoint sustainability leads to oversee improvements.

The NHS has plans to become the world’s first carbon net-zero national health system, according to NHS England.


The commitment comes amid growing evidence of the health impacts of climate change and air pollution, and aims to save thousands of lives and hospitalisations across the country.

Using green vehicles including road-testing a zero-emissions fully electric ambulance, reducing the number of single-use and consumable products, ensuring hospitals and NHS buildings are more energy-efficient, and delivering patient care at or closer to home are just some of the changes suggestions.

Individual NHS organisations will name a senior sustainability lead to oversee these improvements.

NHS England has set the target of achieving net-zero by 2040, with an ambition for an interim 80% reduction by 2028-2032.


A health emergency.

A massive rise in the use of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) has been identified as a challenge.

The newly appointed NHS Chief Sustainability Officer, Dr. Nick Watts said: “The evidence that the climate emergency is a health emergency is overwhelming, with health professionals already needing to manage its symptoms.

“We know that 98% of NHS staff believe the health system should be more environmentally sustainable, and even during the busiest period in NHS history, the insight, enthusiasm and commitment from those on the frontline for us to plan for the future has been exceptional.

“The NHS’s ambition is world-leading, and the first national commitment to deliver a net zero health service.


“It comes at a time when the UK is preparing to host the UN climate change summit next year, and demonstrates that every part of our societies need to play their part in reducing pollution and responding to climate change.”

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