NHS organisations are being urged to make a public commitment to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by at least 10 per cent during 2010.

The 10:10 campaign, launched on Tuesday, is seeking pledges to cut emissions from organisations across the public sector. Ten influential NHS organisations, including acute, mental health and primary care trusts, have already signed up, along with local authorities, schools and universities among others.

Organisers, including the Campaign for Greener Healthcare, hope that an early demonstration of support could influence the climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

In an open letter to their colleagues in the NHS, chief executives and directors who have already signed up say there are compelling business and social reasons to join. These include the belief that staff will see the commitment as a positive investment in their future, “benefiting staff morale, recruitment and retention and increasing patient engagement”.

The letter also highlights cutting spending on energy as one way to increase productivity and efficiency.

Signatories say the NHS has a responsibility to care for the population’s health and, as the largest employer in Europe, must show leadership.

“Climate change already hits the poorest hardest. If we are serious about tackling health inequalities we should be taking bolder action on climate change,” the letter says.

Signatories include: NHS Bristol chief executive Deborah Evans, NHS South West chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers; Frimley Park Hospital Foundation Trust director of human resources and facilities Janet King; Basingstoke and North Hampshire Foundation Trust chief executive Mary Edwards; St George’s Healthcare Trust director of estates and facilities Neal Deans; South Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust chief executive Patrick Geoghegan; Nottingham University Hospitals Trust chief executive Peter Homa; University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust chief executive Sir Robert Naylor; The Old School Surgery senior partner Tim Ballard; NHS Tameside and Glossop chief executive Tim Riley.