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Carbon Foot Printing – a Blog by Heidi Barnard, Head of Sustainability

1 December 2022

Identifying a route to net zero emissions for a complex system as large as the NHS is particularly challenging.
The NHS has set a clear ambition to be the world’s first net zero National Health Service.
There are two targets:

  • For the emissions, we control directly (the NHS carbon footprint), we will reach net zero by 2040, with an ambition to achieve an 80% reduction by 2028 to 2032;
  • For the emissions we can influence (our NHS carbon footprint plus), we will reach net zero by 2045, with an ambition to achieve an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039.

The ‘Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service Report sets out the latest NHS carbon footprint, trajectories to net zero and the interventions required to achieve that ambition.
It shows that a significant portion of its emission is in the supply chain scope three emissions.


On 1 July 2022, the NHS became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation, through the Health and Care Act 2022. The Delivering a Net Zero National Health Service Report is now issued as statutory guidance.

What has this got to do with NHS Supply Chain?

For many NHS trusts, much of the scope three expenditure is with NHS Supply Chain and are therefore potentially hotspots they want to work on. 

Several trusts have approached us to ask about the actions we are taking and targets for the coming year to feed into their green plans and reporting. So, what are we doing?

As many of you will have heard at forums in the last year, we have engaged CO2 Analysis to support us in understanding the size and scale of NHS Supply Chain’s footprint. Our team has had the analysis back and is working through the data sets. We plan to set up forums with trusts’ sustainability teams in the New Year to discuss insights from the data and our plans to address them.

As many of you know, I am relatively new in post and plan to take a data-led, but pragmatic approach to how NHS Supply Chain tackles some of the issues – and as the famous quote states – no man is an island – we will need to work together to tackle what we find.

Following the initial forum of data sharing, I would like to evolve the forum into working groups that put actions in place to tackle the big issues. My philosophy is very much if we can tackle a supplier, product or issue once, nationally, it is the best use of our time and energy, then let the regions tackle regional issues, and the trusts tackle trust-specific issues.

If you want to discuss this further, or want to be involved in the forums please contact: