The government has previously set a national target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
At present, the NHS has a carbon footprint of 18 million tonnes of CO2 per year – 3.2% of carbon emissions and 25% of public sector emissions in England. The NHS will attempt to achieve a 10% reduction in its 2007 carbon footprint by 2015.
The new NHS pledge is set out in a new Strategy, Saving Carbon, Improving Health, which was launched today by NHS chief executive David Nicholson and Dr David Pencheon, NHS sustainable development unit director.
Two of the key recommendations in the strategy call for NHS organisations to establish a sustainable development management plan, monitor and report on their carbon emissions, and actively promote carbon awareness at every level of the organisation.
Mr Nicholson said: ‘As the biggest public sector employer in the country, the NHS needs to lead by example. I want to encourage NHS staff to really get involved and do their bit to create a greener NHS.’
RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: ‘The commitment and involvement of staff at all levels from board room to staff room, as well as appropriate investment in the NHS, will be needed to realise the longer-term goals of this ambitious strategy.
‘There are many opportunities for nurses to champion improvements, from recycling waste to raising awareness among colleagues about how best to use valuable resources.’