States’ use of cyber operations

States are increasingly engaging in cyber operations to support their strategic aims. This POSTnote considers hostile state-backed cyber activities against the UK. It looks at how and why states use cyber operations against other nations and the threats these pose to the UK. It also considers mitigation measures, both internationally and in the UK.

States’ use of cyber operations

Climate change and security

Climate change is creating complex risks for societies, with globalisation increasing dependencies and interconnectedness between nations. This POSTnote sets out the potential security implications of climate change, arising from both its impacts on human systems and the ‘transition risks’ from climate change mitigation measures. It also describes the tools and approaches that could be used to manage the risks and opportunities arising.

Climate change and security
  • POSTnote

    Energy consumption of ICT

    Information and Communication Technology (ICT), including data centres, communication networks and user devices, accounted for an estimated 4-6% of global electricity use in 2020. Increasing demand for ICT is expected to lead to an increase in global ICT energy use over the next decade. Experts have highlighted ongoing improvements in the energy efficiency of the technology. However, there is limited evidence on the energy use of ICT, and a significant degree of uncertainty in existing estimates. This POSTnote summarises estimates of the energy used across the ICT sector and trends that may affect it. It discusses developments in energy efficiency and issues related to energy reporting and standards.

  • POSTnote

    Energy security

    Energy security concerns have risen over the last year. This has been brought about by high international gas and electricity prices, and the possibility of gas shortages during winter 2022, driven largely as a consequence of Russia’s war in Ukraine. This POSTnote examines the risks to the UK’s energy security, current practices for ensuring energy security, and measures that might be taken to enhance energy security as the UK transitions towards a net zero economy.

  • POSTnote

    Green steel

    Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the iron and steel industry make up 14% of industrial emissions in the UK. Decarbonisation of the steel industry is needed if the UK is to meet its target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050. This POSTnote outlines current steelmaking processes in the UK, the technologies and measures that can be used to reduce CO2 emissions, and the supporting infrastructure and policies that could enable a ‘green steel’ industry in the UK.

  • POSTbrief

    Geothermal energy

    Geothermal energy is a source of low-carbon, homegrown, renewable energy. It is available throughout the UK and can provide heat or power all year long independent of weather conditions. It currently delivers less than 0.3% of the UK’s annual heat demand, using only a fraction of the estimated available geothermal heat resource. There is the potential to increase this proportion significantly, but this will require long-term government support to develop a route to market and overcome high upfront capital costs and geological development risks.

  • POSTbrief

    Mining and the sustainability of metals

    The mining and processing of minerals underpins modern technology and infrastructure. Each year, over 3.3 billion tonnes of metals are produced globally, and most predictions of demand show increasing consumption of metals in the coming decades, including in renewable energy generation, electric vehicles and batteries. The transition of the world’s economies and industries to more sustainable energy and technologies will require more mining and processing of non-renewable mineral resources, with associated positive and negative impacts on the environment and society.

  • POSTnote

    International shipping and emissions

    International shipping is widely regarded as a ‘difficult-to-decarbonise’ sector. However, having been included in the UK Government’s sixth carbon budget, rapid reductions in emissions from this sector will be required to contribute to UK’s goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This POSTnote examines the options for reducing emissions from international shipping activities and outlines the regulatory landscape of the sector.

  • POSTnote

    Smart Cities

    "Smart cities" describes places that incorporate a range of technologies (especially those that collect and use data) to address economic, social, and environmental challenges. Projects usually take place in urban areas, but are also deployed in rural settings. This POSTnote looks at smart city innovation in the UK and the technologies involved. It considers the factors driving the adoption of smart city technologies, and the potential benefits, barriers and risks associated with their implementation.

  • POSTnote

    Energy sector digitalisation

    The incorporation of digital technologies in the energy sector can support progress towards key UK objectives such as achieving Net Zero emissions targets. It can also transform current methods of energy generation, transmission, regulation, and trading. This POSTnote presents an overview of key digital technologies and their main applications in the energy sector. It provides an overview of the potential benefits to using these technologies, and recent developments in this area. It describes the role of data in underpinning digital technologies in the sector, and some of the issues raised by its use. It also discusses broader challenges associated with energy sector digitalisation and measures that could help address them, including issues related to technology, regulation, and impact on consumers.

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