First ever climate and environment provisions in Health and Care framework
Updated: May 25, 2022
Peers have secured new climate, environment and adaptation duties embedded within the future health framework. The NHS is responsible for around 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions and around 40% of all public sector emissions. This approaches the total emissions of countries such as Denmark or Croatia. The NHS was the first national health service to agree net zero commitments and 14 other countries followed its lead at COP26 - underlining the important role that the UK and its public institutions can play in encouraging global action. The changes to this bill will therefore support the NHS in the vital role it can play in helping to achieve our net zero targets, as well as providing policy blueprints for other countries.
Following the tabling of a number of cross-party amendments by Peers at Committee Stage and meetings with Ministers ahead of Report Stage, the Government tabled four amendments which introduce new duties for NHS England, Integrated Care Boards, NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts to have regard to the need to contribute to our climate change and environmental targets and to adapt to any current or predicted impacts of climate change when exercising their functions. The Minister recognised the role of Peers saying “we had a passionate debate on climate change in Committee…. I pay tribute to the work of the noble Lords in helping us to reach this position” and “for setting the challenge for Government that there is always more to do”.
Peers also pressed for assurances from the Government of the important role of NHS procurement. With purchasing powers of upwards of £100bn, it can help to drive significant emissions reductions within supply chains. The Minister recognised this stating “It is clear that the NHS will need to take urgent action to decarbonise procurement”.