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A commitment to decarbonise by 2045: an open letter to all NHS suppliers

5 November 2021

As global leaders come together at the UN Conference of the Parties this week, we, the International Leadership Group for a Net Zero NHS, recognise that climate change poses an unequivocal threat to human health. Left unabated climate change will disrupt care, with poor environmental health contributing to major illnesses, such as asthma, cardiac problems and cancer.

Healthcare delivery contributes 4.4% of global carbon emissions. Therefore, healthcare systems and their supply chains are both part of the challenge and the solution, having a key role to play in supporting the response to climate change.

That’s why the National Health Service in England became the world’s first health system to commit to two ambitious yet achievable targets:

  • Net zero carbon by 2040 for direct emissions
  • Net zero carbon by 2045 for supply chain emissions

With 62% of the NHS Carbon Footprint Plus based within its global supply chain, there is an opportunity for suppliers around the world to demonstrate their commitment to the health of their employees, their customers, and the wider community, by working in collaboration with the NHS, to decarbonise operations in line with this target.

We understand that taking action on this agenda is complex, not least because our supply chains are global. It will require strong leadership, bold commitments, and a clear roadmap with intermediate targets. But it is critical if we are to support a healthier planet and healthier people.

That is why the members of the International Leadership Group for a NHS Net Zero NHS, are standing side by side with the NHS, its staff, patients and the public, in support of a net zero health service and the improvement of health now and for future generations, by committing to reach net zero emissions by 2045 or earlier across scopes 1, 2, and 3.

The trade bodies - ABPI, ABHI and BIO, as equal members of the Group, commit to support their members towards delivering the NHS net zero goals.

The independent members of the group - The Health Foundation, The British Medical Journal and the EAT Foundation, commit to supporting the NHS’s ambition to reduce its contribution to climate change and become the world’s first net zero health care system.

Over the coming years, we will work with the healthcare service to support the transition to a net zero NHS supply chain. By driving research and innovation, sharing best practice and working together we hope to raise ambition on climate action more widely.

The NHS will be launching a new Sustainable Supplier Framework in 2022 to support suppliers in this journey. There is a challenging path ahead, but it is the only one we can follow if we are to protect the health of people around the world today, and for our children tomorrow.

Yours Faithfully,

Mr Alan Jope, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever

Mr Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson

Dame Emma Walmsley DBE, Chief Executive Officer, GSK

Mr Geoff Martha, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Medtronic

Ms Lisa Jackson, Vice President, Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Apple

Mr Michel Vounatsos, Chief Executive Officer, Biogen

Mr Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca

Mr Roland Diggelmann, Chief Executive Officer, Smith+Nephew

Mr Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft

Mr Xavier Martiré, Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer, ElisTrade bodies

Dr Michelle McMurry-Heath, Chief Executive Officer, Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Mr Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive Officer, The Association of British HealthTech Industries

Dr Richard Torbett, Chief Executive Officer, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical IndustryIndependent membersDr Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief, The BMJ

Dr Gunhild Stordalen, Founder and Executive Chair, EAT

Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive Officer, The Health Foundation