At his speech to NHS Scotland’s Sustainability Conference on 10 November, Scotland’s Health and Social Care Secretary, Humza Yousaf recognised the link between climate change and health alongside the benefits a natural environment can bring to health:

The climate emergency is not just an environmental crisis – it is also a public health crisis. I am determined to help the NHS cut emissions and create an environmentally and socially sustainable health service. Working together, we can realise the benefits for people’s health that a healthy natural and social environment can provide.

The draft Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy 2022 to 2026 recognises the need to act to address the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity is clear and pressing. In 2019 NHS Scotland became the first national health service in the UK to commit to becoming a net-zero organisation. But like all sectors of society, they need to accelerate their efforts to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and become environmentally sustainable. They are therefore bringing forward the target date for achieving net-zero emissions from 2045 to 2040. 

At the same time, many of the actions needed in response to the climate emergency and the environmental crisis have positive health impacts. Cutting emissions and restoring biodiversity improves air quality and can prevent diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, heart attacks and stroke.  The direct and indirect health benefits are so great that tackling climate change has also been described by the Lancet Commission as:

"the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”

Consultation on the draft NHS Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy is open until 10 Feb 2022.

View the Consultation

Green Health

There is a wealth of good quality evidence and case studies demonstrating the positive impact that greenspaces can have on physical and mental health. greenspace scotland is working with NHS Lothian, Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation and a wide range of partners and stakeholders on the development and delivery of the Greenspace and Health Strategic Framework for Edinburgh & LothiansRead more about greenspace scotland's work on Green Health and the delivery of the Lothians Green Health Strategy.