Governance and policy

To help meet the NHS’s sustainability ambitions, a number of important policy and oversight mechanisms will be required.

NHS Sustainability Board

A new NHS Sustainability Board has been established to coordinate and support action across the entire system. Reporting directly to the NHS Public Board, it assures the breadth of sustainability work, leading on the implementation of the Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service report, and monitoring progress against our climate change ambitions.

To support co-ordination and delivery of the net zero ambitions, all NHS organisations – including every region and integrated care system – will have a board-level lead, responsible for leading on net zero and the broader Greener NHS agenda.

NHS Long Term Plan 

The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) was drawn up in partnership with frontline staff, patient groups and national experts. It is an ambitious but realistic vision of how the NHS must move forward alongside changing health needs, a developing society and advancing medicine.

The LTP includes several commitments related to health and the environment, including efforts to tackle climate change, reduce single-use plastics, improve air quality, and minimise waste and water use.

Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service

The report provides a detailed account of the NHS’s carbon footprint, alongside a range of targets and trajectories to reach net zero. It gives an overview of workstreams and interventions required to meet this ambition, and sets out a framework for continuous monitoring, reporting, and assurance in-line with the UK Committee on Climate Change.

UK Legislation

In 2019 the Climate Change Act (2008) was amended to ensure the UK cut its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

This directly supports the UK’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global average temperature rise to ‘well below’ 2ᵒC.