It’s Monday, October 5, and England’s National Health Service has a new road map to reach net-zero.

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Keeping climate change in check is not a mandate that countries can fully tackle without the proactive participation of all of the companies, organizations, and institutions within them. That’s why it’s a big deal that England’s National Health Service (NHS), which announced that it was going to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero back in January, has a new multi-year plan for how to get there.

From its ambulances to its buildings to its medical devices and medicines, the NHS is responsible for between 4 and 5 percent of England’s contribution to climate change. The new plan released last week sets several benchmarks for the agency: By 2032, it will reduce the emissions it has direct control over — for example, the heating and cooling of its buildings — by 80 percent. (It plans to eliminate the last 20 percent by 2040.) By 2039, the NHS will reduce emissions from its supply chains — like those produced by the companies that make medical devices and medicines — by 80 percent as well, ultimately aiming for net-zero on this front by 2045.

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One of the most immediate steps will be to green the ambulance fleet: The NHS plans to develop and test the world’s first hydrogen-electric ambulance by 2022, with a goal of electrifying all its vehicles by 2032. Trickier emissions to cut will be the direct emissions from anesthetics like laughing gas and devices like inhalers.

Emily Pontecorvo

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