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

The impact of remote and hybrid working on workers and organisations

This POSTbrief focuses on the impact of remote and hybrid working on individuals and organisations across the UK, as well as wider impacts. It provides an overview of key trends in remote and hybrid working before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and how this varies between groups and demographic factors. It reviews the emerging research evidence on the impact of remote and hybrid working on workers and organisations, as well as emerging data on the wider impacts.

The impact of remote and hybrid working on workers and organisations

Climate adaptation for nature

The UK Government has committed to halting the long-term decline of species abundance and protecting 30% of land and sea by 2030. Achieving this will require consideration of the impacts of climate change on wildlife and their ecosystems. This POSTnote summarises options to allow nature to adapt to a changing climate and ensure the long-term effectiveness of conservation strategies.

Climate adaptation for nature
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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Restoring agricultural soils

    Changes to the management of agricultural soil could contribute to improving the ability of soils to produce crops, as well as to wider benefits including mitigating future climate change. This POSTnote summarises the state of England’s agricultural soils and evaluates soil stewardship opportunities. Soil indicators that could be used for monitoring in policy frameworks and incentives relating to soil restoration are explored.

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    Reducing agricultural pressures on freshwater ecosystems

    Freshwater ecosystems in the UK face a myriad of pressures, with agricultural activities a leading source of impacts. Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan proposes a “systems” approach to mitigate environmental pressures. This POSTnote first describes the components of UK freshwater catchments, then summarises opportunities for developing a more integrated approach to addressing the pressures that agricultural practices place on freshwaters.

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    Sustainable land management: managing land better for environmental benefits

    England is at a historical crossroad for the governance of land and the natural environment. Actions for addressing and adapting to climate change, achieving food security and tackling the biodiversity crisis are all embedded in and depend on how land is managed. Existing Government policy and targets have so far failed to address many of these complexities of land, farming and the natural environment.

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    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.

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    Defence of space-based assets

    Space-based assets (satellites and the terrestrial ground stations that communicate with them) provide critical support to military and civilian operations. They are vulnerable to unintentional damage and disruption, and to deliberate attack. This POSTnote outlines how the UK uses and accesses satellites, potential risks to satellites, and approaches to mitigation.

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    Environmental housing standards

    Buildings have varied impacts on the environment, arising from energy, water and land use as well as the release of pollutants. Residential buildings also affect occupants’ health and wellbeing through their design and placement within the wider environment. This POSTnote summarises the factors affecting a building’s environmental performance, the existing governance framework and the potential opportunities for delivering wider social benefits through relevant standards.

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    Coastal management

    The UK coastline is shaped by interactions between complex social, ecological, and physical processes. Increasing coastal flood and erosion risk is a major climate adaptation challenge. This POSTnote examines coastal management in England, associated issues and how an adaptive approach can better prepare the country for uncertain future sea level rise under climate change.

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