Large-scale woodland creation is being promoted internationally to mitigate climate change. It can also supply other benefits, such as improving biodiversity, air and water quality. This POSTnote summarises key factors influencing how much carbon is taken up by woodland, the different objectives of woodland creation, constraints to increasing UK tree cover and different finance options.

Devices with screens include game consoles, laptops and televisions. Screen use refers to activities undertaken on such devices and the time spent on them. Children’s screen use has increased over the past decade. Policy-makers and parents have expressed concerns about possible effects of screen use on children/young people’s development and health. This POSTnote provides an overview of how children/young people use screens, the opportunities and risks of this use, evidence on the possible effects on health and development, and evidence on ways to support healthy screen use.

POST has published 20 COVID-19 Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) for the UK Parliament. ARIs were identified using the input of over 1,000 experts. They were then ranked in order of interest to UK Parliament research and select committee staff, following internal feedback. Each ARI comes with a series of questions aiming to further break down each broad area. The ARIs focus on the impacts of the global pandemic and range from economic recovery and growth, to surveillance and data collection, long-term mental health effects, education, vaccine development, and the NHS.

  • POSTnote

    Machine learning (ML, a type of artificial intelligence) is increasingly being used to support decision making in a variety of applications including recruitment and clinical diagnoses. While ML has many advantages, there are concerns that in some cases it may not be possible to explain completely how its outputs have been produced. This POSTnote gives an overview of ML and its role in decision-making. It examines the challenges of understanding how a complex ML system has reached its output, and some of the technical approaches to making ML easier to interpret. It also gives a brief overview of some of the proposed tools for making ML systems more accountable.

  • POSTnote

    A heat network provides heating and hot water to an apartment, commercial site or series of buildings close together. It can also provide cooling. There is interest in using them to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings. This POSTnote looks at the technology of heat networks and their sources of heat. It looks at considerations when building new networks. It also outlines a potential future market framework.

  • POSTbrief

    Plastic packaging waste has become a key consumer concern. In the UK, over 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging enter the consumer market each year. Much of this is used in the food sector because plastic packaging is cheap, light to transport, hygienic, and can be used to extend the product’s shelf-life. In the UK around 46% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, mostly through local authority collections. However several issues with the current systems of plastics recycling persist. This POSTbrief reviews proposals to Defra and HM Treasury to improve plastics recycling in the UK .

  • POSTnote

    Marine renewables are technologies that generate electricity from tide and wave motion. They produce electricity without greenhouse gases, and could provide economic benefits for the UK. However, the technologies have been slow to develop, despite previous projections of growth. This POSTnote examines the causes of this delay and how the sector might develop.

  • Horizon scanning

    Over 1,100 experts have shared with us their concerns about COVID-19 and COVID-impacted areas in the immediate and longer term future. This report includes data or information experts would like to see the Government release in order to understand the decisions that underpin its approach to the COVID-19 outbreak. Generally, experts have highlighted five key areas of concern in the way the UK Government has released information. These include: transparency of decision making mechanisms, the quality, quantity and range of types of evidence used, the justification of the Government's decisions, the need for accessible and understandable information, and the need to publish data as soon as its available. Experts have also called for additional information to be released by the Government including: academic studies, models and Government data sets used to make decisions, all data being collected during the COVID-19 outbreak, Government guidance to departments, public bodies and public services, and Government and other public recovery strategies.

  • Horizon scanning

    Over 1,100 experts have shared with us their concerns about COVID-19 and COVID-impacted areas in the immediate and longer term future. This report outlines infrastructure concerns. Experts are concerned about public transport. They worry about the reduction of services and want clearer guidance on how to stay safe while traveling. They also note that after the outbreak people might not return to using public transport, which could have a range of negative impacts on infrastructure. Digital infrastructure is also an area of concern. Experts worry it will struggle to continue to cope with increased demand. In terms of energy, experts worry about volatility in the energy market and that this could affect how much energy the UK is able to import. Finally there are general concerns about the UK's ability to monitor and maintain infrastructure. Such services might have halted or reduced. On top of that, returning workers might be less familiar with the new processes and put their health and safety at risk.

  • Horizon scanning

    Over 1,100 experts have shared with us their concerns about COVID-19 and COVID-impacted areas in the immediate and longer term future. Researchers have also shared what further data or information they would like to see the Government release to understand the decisions that underpin its approach. This report outlines concerns about business and trade. Experts have concers about supply chins and logistic, particularly in the food and healthcare industries. They are also concerned about business support and have identified arts and culture, hospitality and tourism, retail, manufacturing, and agriculture and horticulture as industries at risk. Finally they have highlighted industry behavior and entrepreneurship as areas of concern.