Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Our climate commitment - Guy's & St Thomas' Foundation

Our climate commitment

As an independent foundation focused on building a healthier society, we believe in committing to bold action to address climate change.


Climate change, the health of people, and the health of our planet

We know the climate crisis is a huge threat to people’s health. We are seeing the impact of this in urban areas which suffer the extreme effects of weather, disruption to food and other supply chains, and worsening air pollution. We also know the climate crisis is a social justice issue, with those groups already experiencing the greatest health inequalities being affected the most. As an independent foundation focused on building a healthier society, we believe bold action is required to address the effects of climate change on global health.

A climate strategy to manage our impact on the planet

We are delivering a comprehensive strategy to help us manage the impact of our activities on the planet and the health of people. We are applying the lens of how and where we can have the greatest climate impact to each of the three areas of our work. We are developing a clear path to reduce emissions and reach net zero in both our endowment – a diverse portfolio of investments and property – and in our operations. Through our programmatic work we are investing in, and testing, solutions to increase our understanding of the links between health equity and climate change in cities. In our work as the charity for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, we are supporting their commitment to be at the forefront of delivering sustainable healthcare.

Our emissions and net zero commitments today

We see our endowment as one of our most powerful tools for change, and therefore set it a dual objective of achieving both financial returns and health impact. We aim to achieve our climate commitments through a combination of investment, engagement, and divestments.. Across our endowment, we are committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while also:

  • Halving emissions across our financial investments portfolio by 2030
  • Investing £50 million of our portfolio in climate solutions and strategies
  • Reducing exposure to fossil fuels and other investments that are not consistent with a low carbon future
  • Transitioning our property portfolio to operational net zero (Scope 1 direct emissions and Scope 2 indirect emissions) by 2035

To achieve this, we are taking an evidence-based approach in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement to arrive at a transition plan with achievable goals, a clear roadmap, and timeline. As part of our detailed planning, we will be examining reaching net zero earlier than 2050.

What we are doing now to minimise our climate impact

We are taking fundamental steps to understand our climate impact and have begun work towards improving our practices and policies, including:

  • Incorporating the recommendations from an independent carbon emissions audit from leading sustainability consultants Carbon Intelligence to identify carbon hot spots in the organisation and inform the development of our strategy.
  • Reviewing our strategies, policies and practices to help us achieve net zero emissions in our endowment. This is part of our commitment to moving further and faster to integrate environmental, social and governance (. We are already members of several responsible investing networks and initiatives including the Funder Commitment Climate Change. Our investor engagement work on climate continues, coordinated through networks such as the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) whose mission is to support and enable the investment community to reach net zero
  • Identifying opportunities for research and projects that could benefit both the climate and health through our four programmes at Impact on Urban Health,
  • Developing a strategy for sustainable procurement across our organisation, assessing and engaging with all our suppliers. Across our operations, we aim to reach net zero in line with the endowment target of 2050.

Applying a climate change lens to our Impact on Urban Health programmes

Our approach through Impact on Urban Health is to build our understanding of the health effects of the changing climate through the lens of our four programmes. We aim to do this by identifying the strongest links between our programme goals and where we are seeing the effects of climate change in our place. Policy changes from government combined with the effects of climate change will have big health equity implications. We need action at local, national and international levels to back innovation and influence policy to mitigate the potential increase in health inequalities.

This year, we are undertaking research to gather data around how and to what degree people in Lambeth and Southwark are, and will be, affected by climate change. We will then trial initiatives that link climate and our four programmes to assess how we can support partners to tackle climate change alongside our programmatic issues.

We already support projects that look at climate. For example, through our health effects of air pollution programme we funded a Clear the Air report and awareness campaign with the British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK. Launched at COP26 in Glasgow, this campaign highlights the disproportionate effects of air pollution on the health of different people and communities in the UK.

Climate change governance

Our people are an integral part of this work. The delivery of our ambitious strategy is overseen by our board of Trustees and enabled by our Climate Change Working Group, a cross-organisational group of team members that provide strategic thinking and practical support. We will also report on progress towards our net zero commitments annually, beginning in the 2022/23 financial year.