Getting healthcare to net zero

Pierce Mahne, Head of Corporate Accounts – UK at ACT Commodities, explains how ACT specializes in sourcing renewable energy along with environmental products proving valuable in the battle to get healthcare to net zero

Getting healthcare to net zero has been made a priority by many with England’s National Health Service stating “Our aim is to be the world’s first net zero national health service” in their web feature about creating a greener NHS. (1)

This is a welcome development. According to Cameron Hawkins, Head of Energy and Environment at NHS Property Services (NHSPS), the service is responsible for around 4% of the UK’s annual carbon emissions. (2)

Signalling widespread institutional support for the British government’s Build Back Greener strategy, all four UK health services have made pledges to become net zero by 2050.

In addition to creating consensus around transformative action among building occupiers, the suite of initiatives inside the NHS’s net zero planning, agreed in 2019, to include higher transport and water efficiencies, increased recycling activities, and the reduced use of single-use plastics with the overarching ambition of reducing waste and carbon emissions.

The Net zero standard

Underpinning climate action in the private sector is the Corporate Net Zero Standard, the result of a partnership— the Science Based Targets initiative or SBTi—among the CDP, the UN’s Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and a frame- work for “corporate net zero target setting in line with climate science.”

More precisely, the Net Zero Standard is “guidance, criteria, and recommendations” from academics, scientists, and public and private sector leader- ship about how organizations can and should “set science-based net zero targets consistent with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.”

The Net Zero Standard combines short- and long-term initiatives. Quick, deep cuts to so-called value-chain emissions—those that result from an organization’s processes, from purchased power, and from suppliers and end-users (i.e., scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions)—lead to halved emissions by 2030, and the near elimination of emissions by 2050.

The SBTi also provides explicit instruction on the goals that need to be met before organizations can claim to be net zero (i.e., “deep decarbonization” or 90-95% emissions reductions by 2050) and the imperative of additionality or the importance of making investments to mitigate climate change elsewhere (i.e., additionality).

Delivering on the NHS’s net zero promise

Given the scale of the NHS’s operations and ambitions, administrators formed the NHS Net Zero Expert Panel and tasked members with research gathering and analysis toward modeling objectives for comprehensive climate action. The resulting targets are, in the panel’s words, “as ambitious and possible, while remaining realistic,” focusing on rapid action and continuous monitor- ing, evaluation, and innovation. By the numbers, the targets are twofold: net zero by 2040, with the goal of reaching an 80%-reduction between 2028 and 2032, for emissions the NHS controls directly (i.e., the NHS Carbon Footprint) and net zero by 2045, with the goal of reaching an 80%-reduction between 2036 and 2039, for emissions the NHS can influence (i.e., the NHS Carbon Footprint Plus).

ACT’s expertise in getting healthcare to net zero

We are experts. ACT’s suite of best-practice solutions for advancing organizations’ short- and long-term net zero objectives and climate action initiatives is unparalleled.

We specialize in sourcing renewable energy along with environmental products such as purchase power agreements (PPA) and guarantees of origin (GoOs), and in advising decision-makers on building consensus for comprehensive climate action inside vast, decentralized bureaucracies. We are here to help. Let us know how we can.


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Head of Corporate Accounts
ACT Commoditites
Phone: +31618328939
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