Delivering a net zero NHS

Identifying a route to net zero emissions for a complex system as large as the NHS is particularly challenging. To understand how and when the NHS can reach net zero we established an NHS Net Zero Expert Panel, reviewed nearly 600 pieces of evidence submitted to us and conducted extensive analysis and modelling.

The targets set are as ambitious as possible, while remaining realistic; and are supported by immediate action and a commitment to continuous monitoring, evaluation and innovation.

Our aim is to be the world’s first net zero national health service.

Diagram of net zero targetsWe have set two targets:

  • For the emissions we control directly (the NHS Carbon Footprint), we will reach 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), we will reach net zero by 2045, with an ambition to reach an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039.

The NHS is in a strong position with over a decade of expertise and progress in sustainable healthcare, and the knowledge that our staff support our response to climate change.

Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service report

The report sets out the considerable advances that the NHS has already made in improving our carbon footprint and reducing the environmental impact of our services. It provides a detailed account of the NHS’ modelling and analytics underpinning the latest NHS carbon footprint, trajectories to net zero and the interventions required to achieve that ambition. It lays out the direction, scale and pace of change. It describes an iterative and adaptive approach, which will periodically review progress and aims to increase the level of ambition over time.

The report examines a number of the areas critical to carbon reduction, more details of which can be found in the links on the left and in the report document below.

On 1 July 2022, the NHS became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation, through the Health and Care Act 2022. The Delivering a Net Zero National Health Service report is now issued as statutory guidance. Find out what this means for NHS England, trusts and integrated care boards.

Download a copy of ‘Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service’