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The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is committed to minimising the environmental impact of its operations and developing environmentally sustainable emergency healthcare systems.

Sustainability initiatives within the College

In 2019 the Royal College of Emergency Medicine took an important step on the journey towards a sustainable future; declaring a climate emergency and a goal of carbon neutrality by 2040. To meet this aim the college has implemented a wide range of initiatives to improve environmental performance; divesting from fossil fuels, ensuring zero landfill waste, promoting recycling, reducing transport emissions, and working with suppliers who ethically source materials.

+ Climate Change and Health Scorecard

Climate Change and Health Scorecard

The Climate Change and Health Scorecard review in 2022 demonstrated positive climate action by the College, alongside opportunities for further growth.

Climate Change & Health Scorecard Results

+ ISO14001 Accreditation

ISO14001 Accreditation

ISO14001:2015 lays out a set of management standards by which organisations can design and implement an effective environmental management system.

The College were accredited with achieving ISO14001:2015 in May 2023.

+ RCEM Environmental Specialist Interest Group

RCEM Environmental Specialist Interest Group

The RCEM Environmental Specialist Interest Group (ESIG) was established in 2019 and consists of RCEM members and employees. Broadly the ESIG are tasked with:

  • supporting the College to improve their environmental working practices and embed environmental sustainability into organisational decision making
  • advocating for environmental sustainability within the College, within the speciality of Emergency Medicine, and within healthcare and health systems as part of a boarder remit
  • developing evidence-based tools to measure and improve the environmental sustainability of emergency medicine
  • translating those tools into clinical practice

Sustainability initiatives within Emergency Medicine

Understanding how Emergency Departments can mitigate their environmental impact while maintaining standards of patient care within the current setting of financial and departmental pressures is a challenge. The GreenED programme was developed by the Environmental Specialist Interest Group (ESIG) and launched nationally in 2023 with support from the Greener NHS. The GreenED programme aims to measure and reduce the environmental impact of emergency medicine by empowering emergency healthcare staff to embed environmentally sustainable working practices into their departments.

+ GreenED Programme

GreenED Programme

Visit the GreenED website

The GreenED programme is delivered via an online portal which provides a framework of evidence-based actions, divided into bronze, silver and gold tiers. The portal provides guidance on how to achieve each action, supporting resources, data collection tools and calculators with which to measure their impact. Successful completion of all the actions in a tier leads to formal accreditation by RCEM.

GreenED Framework

The interventions have been shown to maintain or improve patient care, meet wider sustainability targets at both trust and national level, and lead to financial savings in a pilot trial in 2021.

The GreenED portal is supported by an open-access GreenED Toolkit containing a Digital Handbook and additional resources.

For further information email

EMJ Supplement August 2022 – GreenED Update

+ RCEM Position Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Emergency Healthcare

RCEM Position Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Emergency Healthcare

In May 2023 the College released a position statement on environmentally sustainable emergency healthcare making five key recommendations:

  1. Emergency Medicine staff should understand and work to reduce their impact on the environment, including measuring carbon emissions where possible.
  2. Emergency Department leadership teams are encouraged to engage with the environmental agenda, and include issues aligned with this agenda as part of their core business. Ideally Emergency Departments will have a Green ED group or similar, along with a nominated environmental sustainability lead.
  3. Emergency Medicine staff can contribute towards low carbon healthcare that is efficient, timely and optimises resource use, ensuring that the right patient gets the right care at the right time.
  4. Emergency care professionals have a role to play in achieving the health benefits of swift societal decarbonisation and promoting public health; the most environmentally sustainable healthcare is healthcare that is no longer needed.
  5. Research funding must be identified to evaluate and develop the evidence base for best practice in reducing carbon in healthcare

RCEM Position Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Emergency Healthcare – May 2023

+ Education and Advocacy

Education & Advocacy Logo

Education and Advocacy

RCEM Study Day: How to provide environmentally sustainable emergency care

6th June 2023. Virtual event

Network: Sustainable Emergency Care Network at The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

RCEMLearning Blog: Air pollution


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