"Critical care for our climate" - UCLH's net zero strategy


Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. However, there is no doubt that we can all play our part in rising to this challenge.

UCLH has developed this strategy, building upon our pre-existing Green Plan, to offer a more detailed and operational approach to responding to our environmental challenges over the rest of this decade and across the next.

It sets out the key actions that we must take across our hospitals, such as eliminating the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels across our estate and moving to low carbon clinical care models, as we transition to become a net zero health provider. 

You can download the strategy in full, or a short-form version if preferred, by clicking on the buttons below.

Cover image - UCLH's net zero strategy
Cover image - UCLH's net zero strategy in short form

UCLH declares a climate and health emergency

UCLH is making a firm commitment to reduce its impact on the environment, with a 10-point plan to reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2031. To galvanise action, UCLH has declared a climate and health emergency. This builds on progress made since the UCLH Green Plan was put in place in 2020. 

The Green Plan has seen investment of more than £2.5m in a programme that includes:

  • installing low energy lights
  • switching to sustainable electricity and recycled paper
  • reducing patient journeys by 50 per cent
  • reducing the use of the most harmful anaesthetic gas by 90 per cent
  • encouraging staff to take part in climate action schemes.

MicrosoftTeams-image (62).png

We are dedicated to treating and supporting our patients and staff within the constraints of our natural resources, increasing our readiness for changing times and climate, and strengthening our links with the local community. In 2021, we were the proud winners of a Sustainability Award in the Public Engagement category.

We aim to embed sustainable development principles in every facet of our activitiesRead more below about our climate action work, or download Our Green Plan in Action.

In line with the NHS' own carbon reduction target of achieving net zero emissions by 2040, UCLH issued its Green Plan in 2020. Having declared a Climate and Health Emergency in 2021, we are now aiming to go further and achieve this target by 2031. 
The UCLH Sustainability Steering Group is responsible to the UCLH Board for meeting these challenges. The group consists of senior managers and clinicians from pharmacy, radiography, procurement, information systems, and estates and facilities management. Its work is constantly evolving, and it remains responsive to new challenges.

Working with the community

We are an advisory board member of the Camden Climate Change Alliance. We are working with local businesses, public sector organisations, and local Business Improvement Districts to minimise adverse effects on biodiversity from our necessary operations and to ensure that all members of staff are aware of their responsibilities towards protecting biodiversity. We will continue with this collaboration to achieve common goals. 

Working with the NHS

We are working with colleagues across the NHS to reduce the impact and cost of energy, waste, water and transport. As a member of the Shelford Group of NHS trusts, we are collectively working towards sustainable procurement.

We have aligned our strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which serve as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all and provide a powerful aspiration for improving our world. Together, we can make a real impact.

Our climate action approach is defined by policies for sustainable development, carbon, and waste management that are endorsed by the UCLH Board. These integrate the latest requirements and guidance from the NHS Sustainable Development Unit. 

In line with the NHS Standard Contract, the UCLH Green Plan outlines our strategy towards a 'net zero' UCLH. It takes into consideration the NHS Long Term Plan's commitments, together with the NHS' own ambition to achieve environmental sustainability.

Our sustainable development assessment currently includes ten measures. We are working to update this in line with emerging national guidance, and to ensure that we have accurate measurement and reporting  in place to guide UCLH's future climate action.