David Pencheon: Climate change – not just doing better but doing different

By now you will know that the UK Committee on Climate Change has recommended that the 2050 target should be increased from a 60% reduction against baseline to 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (principally carbon dioxide). This has now been accepted by the UK Government.


This makes the target (rightly) extremely challenging. It now needs to be remembered that this sort of target won’t be reached by doing today’s business more efficiently;. Changing light bulbs, sharing cars and flying a little less is not going to get us to these targets. They are all necessary actions to take now (i.e. doing more of what many of us are already doing in today’s job more efficiently) – necessary but NOT sufficient. This level of new targets give the clearest evidence yet that we need a radically low carbon society (and a health service to match – which will mean that health care will need to be delivered in radically different ways. The core principles of the NHS may well be the same, but after the first 60 years where much of today’s NHS would be unrecognisable to Nye Bevan, the next 60 years, indeed the next 40 years will see an NHS largely unrecognisable to us – for all the usual reasons, technology, societal expectations, and perhaps demography, but increasingly because of the profound role (ands opportunity) the NHS has to be a leading public sector exemplar in stimulating and creating large behavioural change in the population.