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Green PlanA could-shaped outline containing illustrations of a person cycling, a lake, trees, an ambulance, a hospital and healthcare staff against a backdrop of a blue sky.

Climate change poses a major threat to our health as well as our planet.

Our aim is to improve people’s health, yet carbon emissions and pollution generated by healthcare has the opposite effect.

Nationally, the NHS is responsible for 4 per cent of national carbon emissions and 40 per cent of emissions from the public sector.

The NHS has set two targets to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Net zero is when the amount of greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide) produced by human activity in the NHS is completely negated through a combination of reducing emissions in the first place and, to a lesser extent, removing emissions from the environment.

The NHS net zero targets are:

  • Reduce the emissions we control directly (the NHS Carbon Footprint) net zero by 2040
  • Reduce the emissions we can influence (our NHS Carbon Footprint Plus), to net zero by 2045

Health services in Greater Manchester have an important part to play in this!

Climate emergency

Greater Manchester was the first integrated care system to declare a “climate emergency”.

In June 2022 we published our Green Plan for 2022-25. This sets out how we will work towards achieving the national NHS net zero targets.

Focus areas

Our green plan has 11 areas that we are focusing on. Find out more about them below.

Why this matters

Nearly 153,000 people work in health and social care in Greater Manchester.A circle containing an icon representing the head and shoulders of three people in front of a cog.

National research shows that 87 per cent of NHS staff support the work to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Training and development related to climate change can help staff play their part and come up with innovative ideas.

This focus area includes:

  • Adding a climate change section to all staff inductions
  • Encouraging staff to take part in our Cycle to Work scheme
  • Sharing training with GPs and hospitals
  • Supporting hospitals to deliver their Green Plans

An icon of the head and shoulders of three people connected in a circle by curved arrows.Why this matters

Each health treatment or condition requires the involvement of specific staff or procedures.

Providing care closer to home – in primary care (GP, opticians, pharmacy and dentists) or in the community – reduces journeys and readmissions to hospitals. So does better home and social care, and social prescribing

As well as providing better care for people, this will help to reduce carbon emissions!

This focus area includes:

  • Improving people’s physical and mental health to reduce the need for healthcare
  • Designing care that is better for people and the environment
  • Measuring if what we are doing is making a difference

A circle containing an icon representing a person having a virtual meeting with someone on a computer screen.Why this matters

Using digital technology can reduce the amount of travel to healthcare appointments.

For example, virtual appointments can reduce carbon emissions while still providing good patient care.

This focus area includes:

A circle containing an icon representing a busWhy this matters

Every year, poor air quality contributes to 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester

In towns and cities, road vehicles are the main source of air pollution. Healthcare travel contributes to this, but people can also be affected by poor indoor air quality.

The most vulnerable people – children, older people and those with health conditions – are hit hardest by air pollution.

This focus area includes:

  • Allowing remote working where suitable
  • Using low and ultra low emission vehicles
  • Encouraging the use of e-cargo bikes – electric bikes designed to carry loads
  • Promoting greener travel for staff such as cycle to work and car share schemes
  • Providing secure storage for bikes and more charging points for electric vehicles
  • Working with Transport for Greater Manchester, the organisation which is responsible for transport policies in the region

A circle containing an icon representing a hospital building.Why this matters

In Greater Manchester, NHS estates (our buildings and their grounds) contribute to our carbon emissions.

However, we can reduce the amount of energy and water we use, and send less waste to landfill.

This focus area includes:

  • Introducing energy saving measures such as LED lighting
  • Improving insulation
  • Using renewable energy – like air and ground source heat pumps and solar panels – to heat buildings rather than fossil fuels
  • Increasing recycling

A circle containing an icon representing a bottle of medicine and blister pack of pills.Why this matters

Some medicines contribute to global warming, for example anaesthetic gases or some asthma/COPD inhalers which contain powerful greenhouse gases.

We can reduce this by using ‘greener’ alternatives where appropriate or improving people’s health so they don’t need them!

This focus area includes:

  • Increasing the use of green inhalers
  • Changing the types of gases used in operating theatres
  • Reducing medicine waste
  • Increasing social prescribing to promote healthy lifestyles


A circle containing with an icon of a cog in the centre. Icons of a lorry, a magnifying glass and a person surround the cog and are they linked by curved lines.Why this matters

A large part of the NHS’s carbon footprint (the total amount of greenhouses gases generated by our activities) comes from the goods and services we buy from our partners and suppliers.

We can influence this. That’s why the NHS has published the Net Zero Supplier Roadmap to help suppliers understand how they can help the NHS meet its net zero targets.

This focus area includes:

  • Taking net zero and social value into account (weighting) when awarding contracts
  • Reducing transport emissions
  • Reducing and stopping the use of single-use plastics in catering
  • Piloting reusable or remanufactured products as alternatives to single-use items

A circle containing icons of a plate, a knife and a fork. The plate is divided into thirds, with one third replaced by an icon of an apple.Why this matters

What we eat has a big impact on our health and wellbeing. The food sector also plays an important role in Greater Manchester’s economy, employing more than 100,000 people in industries ranging from agriculture to hospitality.

However, the food sector also generates carbon emissions and waste which can be reduced

This focus area includes:

  • Helping people to have healthier and greener diets
  • Monitoring how much bottled water is used in hospitals
  • Using locally-sourced food
  • Increasing the amount of meat-free menu days for retail catering in hospitals
  • Reducing food waste

A circle containing an icon of The Earth with an icon of a thermometer next to it.Why this matters

We are already experiencing the effects of climate change, including more extreme weather, heatwaves and flooding. These are a threat to people’s health, healthcare buildings and critical infrastructure.

Climate change adaptation is how we adapt and prepare for these risks.

This focus area includes:

  • Supporting hospitals and other healthcare sites to have climate change adaptation plans
  • Helping hospitals to identify sites that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and taking steps to reduce this
  • Working with councils to understand and prepare for flooding

A circle containing icons of three trees with icons of two clouds in the background.Why this matters

Places like parks, gardens, woodlands, canals and rivers are nice places to be. Spending time in them can help to improve our health and wellbeing!

They are also good for the environment as they improve air quality, reduce noise, provide shade, reduce temperatures and help to prevent flooding.

Over a quarter of Greater Manchester is made up of urban green spaces, but some places have more than others. More also needs to be done to improve biodiversity: the variety of animals, plants and fungi in these places.

This focus area includes:

  • Compiling information about the amount of green spaces on healthcare sites so we can make the most of them
  • Encouraging GPs, hospitals and other healthcare providers to develop and enhance their local green spaces through activities like tree planting, beekeeping and installing bat & bird boxes
  • Working with councils on relevant programmes

An icon of a circle with five smaller circles radiating off from it. The central circle and two of the smaller circles contain icons pf people.Why this matters

NHS GM Integrated Care is an ‘anchor’ institution. This means it is connected to local communities, healthcare organisations such as hospitals, universities, local authorities, businesses and the VCFSE (voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise) sector.

Social value is the wider social, economic and environmental benefits which ‘anchor’ organisations can bring to local communities when delivering their services.

This includes employment rights, having sustainable and ethical procurement practices and working with local partners.

This focus area includes:

  • Taking social value into account when awarding contracts
  • Setting up a network of social value leaders
  • All healthcare organiations paying the Real Living Wage



In addition to the NHS GM Green Plan, each of the nine hospital trusts in Greater Manchester also has its own green plan.

This enables us all to work together to reach net zero. Find out more on the following links (we can’t guarantee the accessibility of content on other sites).

Want to find out more?

Greener NHS

How the NHS is becoming greener.

Discover more Discover more

North West Greener NHS

Plans and case studies from across the North West.

Read more Read more

Transport services in Greater Manchester

Services to help you get to and from your health appointments, including help with costs.

More information More information

Greater Manchester Green City

Greater Manchester’s ambitious approach to climate action.

Read more Read more about Greater Manchester Green City

World Health Organisation

Information about climate change and health.

Visit the website Visit the World Health Organization website

More advice for professionals

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