Environmental principles inform legal and political frameworks that aim to minimise the ill-effects of human activity on the environment. In the EU (Withdrawal Act) 2018, the UK has committed to incorporating a set of environmental principles into UK legislation. This POSTnote summarises these principles and considers potential opportunities and challenges surrounding their implementation post-Brexit.

In the last century, agricultural production intensified, but this increased its impacts on the environment, waste in supply chains and in some regions of the world, disconnected it from people’s lives. Projections of global population growth and changing consumption patterns out to 2050 suggest further increases in food production will be needed. This POSTnote outlines key drivers of global agricultural trends and the challenge of safeguarding both food production and environment value in a changing world.

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    The electricity system of Great Britain is becoming increasingly decentralised, with more complex patterns of power production, transportation and consumption. New types of ‘flexibility’ are being developed to facilitate and manage these changes. This POSTnote reviews ways of developing flexibility, as well as technical and economic barriers to doing so.

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    A legacy of persistent pollutants is widely distributed in the environment, increasing the potential for exposure of wildlife and humans. This POSTnote sets out the challenge this posed for regulators, current regulatory approaches and some of the emerging issues.

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    Following EU withdrawal the UK will have full responsibility for fisheries policy and management within its waters. This POSTnote summarises the science used to inform management, current approaches to EU fisheries, and challenges and opportunities for future UK fisheries management

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    Electricity markets in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe are physically linked by ‘interconnector’ cables. These benefit energy system operators and consumers by reducing prices. They can also help integrate renewable electricity and ensure security of supply. This note discusses these benefits, proposals for future increases in interconnection and the potential effects of Brexit.

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    This list sets out the topic areas identified of possible parliamentary interest under the 9 different category headings (Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Forestry, Crime, Defence, Education and Skills, Energy, Environment, Health, ICT and Robotics and Transport and Infrastructure).

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    The burning of natural gas for heating contributes 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Decarbonising, or reducing the carbon content of the UK gas supply is one option for reducing the emissions from heating. This POSTnote looks at the contribution that two alternative gases, hydrogen and biomethane, could make in achieving this goal.

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    Earth observation (EO) is the process of gathering information about the Earth from a range of sensors to provide monitoring data at a range of scales. This POSTnote outlines some of the environmental uses and benefits of EO data, the potential opportunities from advances in relevant technologies and challenges facing the effective use of EO data.

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    The unique properties of engineered nanomaterials are beneficial to a range of industries. However, uncertainties in assessing their potential health and environmental risks could hinder their safe use. This POSTnote summarises the current regulation of nanomaterials and highlights potential future directions for regulatory testing approaches.

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    Agricultural practices can reduce water quality, degrade soils and cause biodiversity loss. This in turn can disrupt natural processes that support food production. Environmentally sustainable agriculture seeks to reduce environmental damage and restore such processes. This POSTnote summarises associated land management options, agricultural policies and the constraints imposed by a new trading environment.