In June 2019, Newcastle Hospitals became the first healthcare organisation in the world to declare a climate emergency. James Dixon CEnv FIEMA discusses their innovative work.

Recognising that a climate emergency is also a health emergency, the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust committed to becoming a Net-Zero carbon organisation by 2040.

The Trust has taken the time since declaring a climate emergency in June 2019 to develop a strategy that is both ambitious and achievable. In doing so they have consulted with staff, patient representatives and our partners across the city, region, nationally and internationally. The Trust has a vision to become a global leader in sustainable healthcare delivery through collaboration and innovation, helping our patients and communities to thrive within the means of our planet. To achieve this mission, they’ve set three long-term goals:

1. Zero carbon care

By 2030 the emissions we control will be net zero.

By 2040 the emissions we can influence will be net zero.

2. Clean Air

By 2030 our operational transport activities will generate no harmful pollution.

By 2040 our healthcare facilities will be accessed by only zero emission travel.

3. Zero Waste

By 2030 we will reuse and repair everything that can be reused and repaired.

By 2040 we will produce no waste. We will manage resources within the circular economy, with items surplus to requirements becoming a resource in another part of the system.

They’ve also recently published a Climate Emergency Strategy to outline what they want to achieve in the next five years to help them reach this vision. The strategy focuses on 8 priority areas and outlines how they aim to achieve it and how they will measure it. Their eight key priority areas are:

  • Energy – Minimise energy use and replace fossil fuels with zero carbon energy sources.
  • Water – Minimise water use.
  • Waste – Dispose of less, reuse and recycle more.
  • Buildings and Land – Provide healthy, sustainable, and biodiverse spaces.
  • Journeys – Embed active, clean, low carbon travel.
  • Procurement – Work with their supply chain to decarbonise.
  • Care – Develop low carbon care pathways adapted to our changing climate.
  • People – Inspire, inform, and empower our people to deliver sustainable healthcare.

You can read more about the Trust’s sustainability journey so far, as well as their full 2020-2025 Climate Emergency Action Plan here.

Read their full report here.

View their video here.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

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James Dixon

James Dixon is Head of Sustainability for The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation. He is a Fellow IEMA member and Chartered Environmentalist with a demonstrated history of sustainability leadership in public sector organisations.