Friday, October 2, 2020

UK's health system planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions asap

The UK’s National Health Service released a sweeping plan today to become the first national health system to eliminate nearly all of its planet-heating greenhouse gases. By 2040, it plans to gut all of the emissions it’s directly and indirectly responsible for. That includes pollution from its facilities, electricity use, vehicles, and supply chains for medicines and medical devices.

NHS UK

Health care is responsible for a hefty chunk of greenhouse gases. The National Health Service pumps out between 4 and 5 percent of England’s carbon emissions. Globally, the health care sectors in 36 countries with the largest economies accounted for more than 4 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide pollution — more than aviation or shipping.

Getting rid of all that pollution will play a huge role in slowing down climate change. It will also help the UK meet its larger goal of essentially eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a benchmark that scientists believe is important for all countries to achieve in order to stop warming from reaching disastrous levels.

“Unabated [climate change] will disrupt care, and affect patients and the public at every stage of our lives,” Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said in a report outlining the coming changes. “We therefore make no apologies for pushing for progress in this area while still continuing to confront coronavirus.”

The UK and NHS set out to reach “net-zero” emissions by 2050 and 2040 respectively, which means they will cut down on pollution and rely on carbon-capturing technology and schemes like tree-planting to offset any emissions they continue to release. By 2045, the NHS aims to go even further by eliminating emissions from patient and visitor travel, as well as medicines and NHS services that people use in their homes.

Making all the necessary changes will be a monumental endeavor. But unlike companies like Microsoft and BP that have recently made similarly splashy climate announcements without many details on how to achieve those goals

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