Sustainable Surgery and Climate Change. What Can and What Must We Do?

31st August 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed lives and health services across the world but will eventually, like previous pandemics, pass. In contrast, the climate crisis, which is already causing deaths, suffering, and disruption, will not pass and is set to get worse. We need to cut our carbon emissions close to zero within 20 years in order to prevent catastrophic outcomes. This is a huge challenge, but luckily cutting carbon emissions through walking and cycling more and driving less and eating more fruit and vegetables and less meat is good for our health. Heath services in Britain account for about 5% of carbon emissions, which need to be cut to net-zero as quickly as possible. The NHS in England is developing a plan to do so, and an interim report will be published in September.

Surgery with its high-tech equipment and anaesthetic gases is a major part of the carbon footprint of the NHS, and it’s essential for surgical and anaesthetic colleges to take the lead in achieving net-zero in surgery and in their own organisations. Achieving net-zero is surgery is a major challenge and will mean a substantial change in clinical practice, but we surgeons always love a challenge.

Tune in to this joint webinar hosted by RCSEd and RCSEng as together we discuss what can be done and what must be done to achieve sustainable surgical practices as we move forward.


Our panellists include:

  • Professor S Michael Griffin OBE, RCSEd President
  • Professor Neil Mortensen, RCSEng President
  • Richard Smith, Chair of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change and a former editor of the BMJ
  • Stella Vig, Consultant Vascular and General Surgeon, RCSEng Council Member, Chair of RCSEng sustainability in surgery committee
  • David Riding, RCSEd Trainees’ Committee Chair and Trainee Member of RCSEd Council
  • Victoria Pegna, ST7 general surgery registrar, RCSEng Council Member, Vice-chair of RCSEng sustainability in surgery committee


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