The Climate Emergency: How Pharmacy Can Make a Difference

Elen Jones, Director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales, explains how the pharmacy industry can fight climate change.

As the professional body for pharmacists, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) recognises the scale and importance of the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Far from being simply an environmental issue, it is the most significant health threat that modern society has ever faced.

If we do not urgently reverse the current trends in emissions and ecological breakdown, the resultant effects will threaten human health and survival. They will impact the essential determinants of life, such as shelter, food, water and a flourishing natural environment.

Pharmacists and the whole pharmacy team have a clear role to play in combating climate change.

Medicines are the most widely deployed healthcare intervention and are responsible for 25% of the NHS’s carbon emissions. 

Such emissions result from manufacture, procurement, transport and at point of use.

As individual practitioners and collectively as a profession, we have an opportunity to offer clear leadership in this area.

Therefore, this week we have joined other leading professional health bodies and key stakeholders in recognising the significance of the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Our Commitments

We pledge to provide leadership to ensure that pharmacy, as a profession, is committed to decarbonisation and the promotion of environmental sustainability

To achieve this, we are making a series of important commitments. These are informed by the engagement we have had with our members and are designed to produce real and tangible actions to combat climate change and ecological destruction.

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These represent the starting position for RPS.

We commit to demonstrating stringent environmental, social and corporate governance by applying its principles to our investments and procurement policies.

Additionally, we can continue to build upon our sustainable approach to maintaining and running our buildings and facilities across all three nations. For example, we will continue to ensure that we are a zero to landfill organisation, promoting increased standards of recycling while aiming to reduce general waste levels and eliminate single use plastics on our sites. 

We commit to leading the profession by embedding consideration of sustainability within our working practices, future policies and decision-making and promoting awareness of the Climate and Ecological Emergency and how professional practice can develop to mitigate these risks.

“As a profession we must lead by example and use our social platform to help inform our communities about sustainability within healthcare and to empower patients to make positive changes in their own lives.

This will include a series of policy positions. Crucially they will be aligned to the NHS Wales Decarbonisation Strategic Delivery Plan and will describe how pharmacists can make a real difference in a range of areas including medicines waste, procurement, and inhaler use.

We are also calling on our members to recognise their role in society. Pharmacists are trusted professionals, known for our scientific rigour and expertise. As leaders within our communities, our patients listen and are influenced by us.

As a profession we must lead by example and use our social platform to help inform our communities about sustainability within healthcare and to empower patients to make positive changes in their own lives.

It is important to recognise that the Climate and Ecological Emergency is happening now.

As an organisation we commit to doing more to help, including a transition to a more environmentally sustainable organisation, where we will actively consider the impact of our actions on the environment in all that we do.

We will encourage others to join us on our journey as together we can make a difference.

Let’s all act now.


All articles published on the welsh agenda are subject to IWA’s disclaimer.

Elen Jones is Director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.

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