As a significant consumer of resources, health care contributes to 4-5% of global carbon emissions. Following the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), recognition of health care’s critical role in addressing the climate crisis has never been greater with 50 national health systems making climate commitments, including 14 setting net zero targets – covering 30% of health care’s total global emissions.
The NHS is already making good progress to reduce its impact on the climate, now in the second year of delivering its strategy to reach net zero – by 2040 for the emissions it directly causes and 2045 for the emissions it influences.
Continuing to make progress towards these targets will be challenging and require a transformation of health care across the supply chain, estates, clinical practice, and more.
Our webinar brought together an expert panel to reflect on the outcome of COP26, the challenges and opportunities this presents for decarbonising health care and what this means for the NHS.
Mahmood is the inaugural Chair in ENT Surgery at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and Honorary Consultant and Green Lead for University Hospitals Sussex. He has a longstanding interest in sustainability in healthcare, and co-founded and leads the Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group at the British Medical Association, which has been influential in international policy change relating to labour abuse in healthcare supply chains.
He has been commissioned by the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change to chair a national report (funded by the Health Foundation) on environmental sustainability in surgical care.
Dr Watts is the Chief Sustainability Officer of the NHS, responsible for its commitment to deliver a world-class net zero emission health service. Based in London, he leads the Greener NHS team across the country, which focuses on improving the health of patients and the public through a robust and accelerated response to climate change and the broader sustainability agenda.
Nick is a medical doctor licensed in Australia and the UK, and has trained population health and public policy. He is a Member by Distinction of the Royal College of Physicians’ Faculty of Public Health, and an Honorary Associate Professor of University College London’s Institute for Global Health.
Prior to the National Health Service, Nick worked internationally as the Executive Director of the Lancet Countdown and the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, a collaboration of UN agencies and academic centres across the world. He has also focused on engaging the health profession on the links between public health and climate change, having founded both the Global Climate and Health Alliance and the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change.
Sonia has worked in health and social care internationally for 30 years as a clinician, in senior hospital management, and in sustainability. She is committed to the transformations needed for a sustainable and healthy planet for all.
Sonia started work for Health Care Without Harm in July 2020 as International Climate Policy Director. In this role, she oversees the work to support health systems around the world, including national and sub-national governments as they move to reduce their climate footprint toward net zero and become resilient leaders in addressing the climate crisis.
Previously Sonia served as the Director of the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) in the National Health Service (NHS) in England. During her tenure leading the SDU she launched the Greener NHS program, including a commitment to net zero climate emissions, positioning the NHS as the first national health system in the world to do so.
She trained as an Occupational Therapist, holds a Masters degree in Systems Thinking and is a member of the Faculty of Public Health in the UK.
Adam Vaughan is Chief Reporter at New Scientist. He has been a journalist for two decades, and was previously energy correspondent and environment editor at The Guardian.
Jennifer was Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust from 2008 to 2013. Prior to this, she was Director of Policy at The King’s Fund and was the policy advisor to the Chief Executive of the National Health Service between 1998 and 2000. Jennifer has undertaken research and written widely on health care reform both in the UK and internationally.
Originally trained in medicine, Jennifer practised mainly paediatric medicine, prior to a career in policy analysis. She has a Master’s in public health and a PhD in health services research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1990–91, Jennifer was a Harkness Fellow in New York.
Jennifer has served as a Board member on several national regulatory bodies: the Health Care Commission 2004–2009; the Audit Commission 2003–2012; and the Care Quality Commission 2013–2016. She has led two national inquiries for government: on the setting up of published ratings of quality of NHS and social care providers in England (2013); and on the setting up of ratings for general practices (2015). She was also a member of the Parliamentary Review Panel for the Welsh Assembly Government advising on the future strategy for the NHS and social care in Wales (2017–2018).
In 2009, Jennifer was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2019 was elected as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded a CBE for services to public health in 2013, and a Doctor of Science from Bristol University in 2016. She has held visiting professorships at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College Business School.