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NSLHD targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2035

Northern Sydney Local Health District has committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2035, with most of the reduction – 70 to 80 per cent – to be achieved by 2030.

The bold target has been set to engage, unite and inspire staff in all areas across the district to focus on a unified ambition and establish NSLHD as a leader in reducing carbon emissions.

NSLHD’s Senior Medical Consultant, Planetary Health, Dr Kate Charlesworth, said planetary health is an issue that many staff care deeply about and are eager to engage with.

“There is substantial and growing evidence demonstrating the health, equity - climate change disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable - financial and reputational benefits for health organisations leading on carbon reduction and planetary health initiatives,” Kate said.

This is an ambitious target, but it is based on Australian modelling and the overwhelming scientific evidence that rapid decarbonisation is needed to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. We need to lead the way and hone in on what we can be doing to ensure that sustainability is part of the conversation in everything we do.
Dr Kate Charlesworth

To reach its target, NSLHD has focused on five priority domains – sustainable organisation, waste management and resource recovery, capital works and procurement, people and places, and models of care. 

Kate said getting to net zero will require action from every staff member across every area of our district.

“Renewable energy, LED lights and building design are part of the solution, but we also need to look at innovative procurement and circular economy solutions, reduce low-value care, and optimise medicine use considering pharmaceuticals are almost 20 per cent of the Australian health system’s carbon footprint,” she said.

“We can also look at developing zero-carbon models of care in all our services and reduce the use of super-pollutants including anaesthetic gases, nitrous oxide and the hydrofluorocarbons in asthma inhalers.” 

Chief Executive Deb Willcox said she hoped the overarching target would empower staff to bring more sustainability initiatives and ideas to the table.

“To keep ourselves, families and communities healthy we need to actively play our part in keeping our environment healthy,” she said.

“We already have many initiatives underway, driven by many staff, in making planetary health a priority in our district.

“There is more work we can do to support you and drive this positive change and I look forward to working with you and reaching our net zero carbon emissions target.”

NSW Health is establishing a climate risk reform program and climate risk has been elevated to one of the NSW Health Secretary’s priority areas.

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