Published date: 09 November 2021

Everyone’s talking about… COP26

This week and last are crucial week for our planet as world leaders gather at COP26 in Glasgow to discuss plans on how to slow down climate change. From 31 October to 12 November, each day will have a theme which will centre the talks – from transport to protecting nature.

COP26 is set to be as important as COP21 in Paris six years ago, where a treaty of all United Nations’ members agreed a landmark decision to limit global heating to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It’s not just governments in on the action, organisations around the world will be talking about how they can limit their impact on the planet, including us a NHSPS.

One of the biggest commitments we’ve made as an organisation is to become net-zero carbon by 2040. We’re doing this alongside NHS England's Greener NHS campaign which brings NHS partners together to share ideas on how to reduce the impact on public health and the environment.

To become net-zero as an organisation is a huge challenge. Our estate is very diverse, we have multiple tenants within buildings, are geographically spread, and in some parts aged. We’ve already taken great steps in the last two years to reduce our carbon output. We now have 100% renewable electricity in our buildings, we’ve invested £5.2 million in LED updated, and have diverted 99% of our waste from landfill. We’ve also just launched our 2021-22 pledges, which give more details on the incremental steps we need to take over the next year. You can read our current pledges here.

There’s lots of work which my (growing) Energy and Environment team will be focusing on. Some of these include rolling out sub-metering in our estate to help us account where energy is being used in a multi-occupancy building, and exploring ways to install more renewable and low carbon technologies, such as heat pumps, solar PV and thermal, wind (where suitable) and Power Purchase Agreements (where we buy energy direct from renewable sources).

An interesting area we’re exploring is how we can become more fuel efficient. The NHS accounts for 3.5% of all road travel in the UK. We’ll be looking into how we can install a network of charging infrastructure to facilitate our transition and our customers' transition to electric vehicles. We also have the opportunity to upgrade our current fleet to electric vehicles over the next 2-5 years, once we have the infrastructure in place to support this. This will be a significant change for those currently driving our fleet vehicles. Find out more in our fuel pledge.

And as well as making changes to tackle climate change, we're also starting to conduct risk assessments on our buildings to uncover the changes we'll need to make to our estate to adapt them for climate change. Our adaptation pledge goes into more detail, as well as how we're implementing our Environmental Management System to protect our environments and increase biodiversity. Read the pledge.

To successfully reach the net zero target, we'll need to work together with our customers to make the changes required to properties as well as changing behaviours like ensuring all equipment is shut down at the end of the day and heating and cooling systems are used correctly. If you have any questions or would like to discuss, please contact our Customer Support Centre.

What are we pledging?

We've got multiple programmes in place to tackle four key areas that are a focus at COP26 - carbon, fuel, waste and environmental management, including adapting buildings for climate change and biodiversity.

Read our pledges to find out more about our plans and progress.

Get inspiration with our Greener NHS 2020/21 Review

If you're forming your ICS sustainability strategy, read our Greener NHS 2020/21 Review to find out how we're approaching forming our strategy, progress and next steps.