NHS doctors and GPs could help influence the public to reduce their carbon emissions, says a joint NHS/Forum for the Future report.
The report, Fit for the Future, says high carbon prices will hit the NHS's budget badly.
It already has the largest carbon footprint of any public sector organisation in Europe, emitting 18m tonnes of CO2 each year.
To reduce that burden, the report recommends it should focus more on health prevention and promoting healthy, low carbon lifestyles.
'Just as GPs giving up smoking had a significant effect on smoking rates, NHS leadership on carbon reduction and climate resilience could be highly influential for the rest of society,' says the report.
'High-carbon lifestyles cause the “diseases of affluence” (including heart disease, cancer and depression), which have almost overwhelmed the health service.
'The NHS should take the lead in promoting low-carbon living as both healthier and happier,' it adds.
Neil McKay, the lead NHS Chief Executive for sustainable development said the NHS had a major challenge to get healthcare professionals to take onboard the report's recommendations.
'There are parts of the NHS that are taking carbon-reduction seriously but there are parts that are not. We'll be working hard to get these issues into the boards of every part of the organisation,' said Mckay.
NHS Sustainable Development Unit