GOSH becomes first London hospital to declare a Climate and Health Emergency

12 Mar 2021, 12:16 a.m.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) has become the first London hospital to declare a Climate and Health Emergency (CHE).

The CHE declaration means GOSH wants to become a net zero carbon organisation and to do so, the carbon emissions we cause will be vastly reduced and any remaining we have are balanced out by removing the equivalent from the atmosphere.

GOSH wants to achieve this for the emissions it controls by 2030 (around 24% of total emissions) and for the emissions it can influence by 2040 (around 76% of total emissions).

GOSH recognises that climate change and environmental degradation pose a real, immediate, and growing threat to human health and the climate and ecological emergency is a health emergency.

While the CHE affects us all, the consequences are especially significant for children. The World Health Organisation estimates that over 80% of the illnesses, injuries and deaths due to climate change are in children.

As a children’s health organisation, GOSH has a special responsibility to respond to the CHE.

Hannah Hardy, chair of the GOSH Young Person’s Forum, said: “The declaration of the Climate and Health Emergency really shows the hospital’s dedication towards sustainability and improving the environment.

“We need to see change. Every hospital has a massive carbon footprint, whether that’s to do with the plastics that they use or the gases they omit.

“I think declaring the Climate and Health Emergency is an excellent step forward in ensuring we do everything we can to improve.”

Hannah Hardy | Young People's Forum

“We need to see change. Every hospital has a massive carbon footprint, whether that’s to do with the plastics that they use or the gases they omit."

Hannah Hardy, Chair of the GOSH Young Person’s Forum

Zoe Asensio-Sanchez, GOSH’s director for Estates, Facilities and Built Environment, said: “Our purpose is to advance care for children and young people with complex health needs so they can fulfil their potential. For our patients to thrive over their lifetime though, they need and deserve a healthy planet to call home.

“Given the urgency of the climate change and pollution crisis we’re facing, we’re acting right now by declaring a Climate and Health Emergency.

“We’re really proud to be the first NHS trust in London to do this and to be part of a wider network to tackle climate change across the health sector and beyond.

“We’re calling on our staff to help us become more environmentally sustainable by becoming a GOSH climate emergency responder and take a leading role on the climate emergency in their teams and to become a green champion.

“Everybody has a role to play in responding to the CHE and building a greener GOSH.”

“We’re really proud to be the first NHS trust in London to do this and to be part of a wider network to tackle climate change across the health sector and beyond."

Zoe Asensio-Sanchez, GOSH’s Director for Estates, Facilities and Built Environment.

The declaration builds upon the hospital’s existing sustainability programme to establish greater ambitions for climate action and environmental leadership.

GOSH has already created the world’s first Clean Air Hospital Framework (a practical guide that details how hospitals can create a healthier environment) and achieved GOLD Cycle Friendly status to support sustainable commuting and active travel.

The hospital has also greatly reduced per person carbon emissions through the construction of energy efficient hospital buildings.

The UK has established a legally-binding net zero emissions target for 2050, compelling the country to achieve deep decarbonisation across all industries and sectors of the economy.

Last October, NHS England announced its intention to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, becoming the first national health service in the world to do so.

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