Less than half of NHS providers are on track to meet carbon reduction targets enshrined in law.

According to data from the Sustainable Development Unit, shared exclusively with HSJ, 43 per cent of NHS providers expect to achieve a 34 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 – a target recommended by the Climate Change Act 2008.

The act says the UK must achieve an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 but sets out an interim target of a 34 per cent reduction by 2020, from a 1990 baseline, to ensure public organisations reach the overall target.

NHS providers on track for 34 per cent carbon reduction by 2020, June 2015

According to the SDU’s maps, created using data from Health and Social Care Information Centre’s annual Estates Return Information Collection, less than half of NHS providers say they are on track to meet the 2020 goal.

The NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy, published by the SDU in 2009, said the NHS should aim to reduce its 2007 carbon footprint by 10 per cent by the end of 2015. The maps indicate that just 38 per cent of NHS organisations have reduced their building energy use by more than 10 per cent so far.

There was a 4.3 per cent decrease in the NHS’s overall energy carbon footprint between 2007-09 and 2014-15.

As part of the NHS standard contract, providers are required to have a sustainable development management plan and report annually to ensure resilience and carbon reduction. The data published in the ERIC report in October found that 52 per cent of providers have a governing body or board approved plan.

The SDU has carried out a review of NHS sustainability reporting. Its data shows that only 33 per cent of annual reports for CCGs and NHS providers include “good” sustainability reporting. The SDU added: “Transparent public reporting is crucial to good governance around sustainable development.”

ERIC data also showed that reported spending on gas, electricity, oil and coal by the NHS fell by 4 per cent (£23m) between 2013-14 and 2014-15. This may be due to a combination of increased efficiency and an estimated reduction of 2.5 per cent in energy costs.

According to the Treasury electricity costs are expected to rise by over 50 per cent in the next five years and the price of gas will jump by 8 per cent.

Imogen Tennison, lead analyst at the SDU said: “The cost of energy is expected to rise, so the NHS will have to be much more efficient if it is to reduce its energy costs.

“At the moment we are in a good position to be on track to meet the Climate Change Act targets. However, in order to meet those targets we need to do a whole lot more, which will require the number of organisations who are reporting that they are on track with [sustainable development management plans] to increase.”

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