Editorial: Green GP - GPs are well-placed to lead on sustainability

Delegates from 192 countries have gathered in Copenhagen this week to establish a new global treaty on climate change.

At first glance it may seem that this has little to do with general practice. However, while action by governments will be key to reducing carbon emissions, steps taken by individuals and organisations are equally crucial to success. As the saying goes: 'Think global, act local.'

As small businesses and a respected part of local communities, GP practices are ideally placed to lead by example on this. From early 2010 this will be much easier to do because, as GP exclusively reveals today, practices will have access to interest-free loans of up to £400,000 to cut their carbon emissions.

There are many reasons why GPs should be encouraged to take advantage of these loans and embrace the idea of sustainability, not least because climate change will have a significant impact on health - both in developing countries and here in the UK.

Milder winters may mean an increase in respiratory disease and hotter summers could lead to more deaths. Adopting a low carbon lifestyle also brings health benefits - such as walking instead of driving and eating less meat, both of which would could help reduce cancer and heart disease.

But, as many practices have found, being green also makes business sense. The 10:10 campaign is encouraging individuals and businesses to reduce their carbon emissions by 10 per cent in 2010. Throughout next year GP will be providing you with practical advice to help you achieve this and show how being green can save you money.

The Mile Oak Medical Centre in Brighton is a great example (see page 45), which also shows that cutting emissions is not just about the practice. It can extend to involving patients and other local people. These new loans will enable more practices to undertake similar work and inspire their communities, which will ultimately benefit us all.


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