Our flagship report, the POSTnote, is a four-page briefing reviewing emerging areas of research.

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.

Energy consumption of ICT

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.

Energy security

Palliative and end of life care

Palliative and end of life care are increasingly in demand as people are living longer and with multiple long-term conditions. However, an estimated 100,000 people in the UK that could benefit from palliative care die without receiving it each year. There is substantial evidence that inequalities in access to palliative and end of life care relate to various sociodemographic factors. Experts have highlighted that access to palliative and end of life care may improve quality of life for patient and family and reduce symptom burden. This POSTnote summarises the key components of palliative and end of life care and recent changes in UK policy. It identifies inequalities and challenges to accessible provision. It also reviews evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of care and outlines key trends.

Palliative and end of life care
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    Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness

    Medical advances mean that increasing numbers of people survive physical injury, stroke, periods of low oxygenation and severe brain infections. Some, however, are left with substantially reduced consciousness. This paper discusses the medical, ethical and commissioning challenges associated with the care of patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states, and explains the impact of recent legal judgments.

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    Invasive non-native species

    Research suggests that the threat from invasive non-native species (INNS) is growing. Biological invasions by INNS harm native species and habitats and can have economic impacts. Biosecurity measures can be adopted to prevent the introduction and spread of INNS. This POSTnote summarises the drivers and impacts of INNS and the measures needed to meet national and international environmental targets.

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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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    Innovation in adult social care

    The UK Government’s 2021 People at the Heart of Care white paper identified innovation as key to delivering “outstanding quality” in adult social care in England. This POSTnote gives an overview of innovation in adult social care. It provides a summary of the types of innovation in the sector and evidence on key barriers to and facilitators of innovation. It also presents lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on England but includes examples from all four UK nations.

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    The impact of digital technology on arts and culture in the UK

    This POSTnote provides an overview of the impact of digital technology on the arts and culture sector in the UK. It focuses on the uses of emerging digital technologies and the impact of COVID-19 on stakeholders. It summarises the policy priorities, challenges and barriers in accessing technology in the sector.

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    Reducing peatland emissions

    Peat soils store greenhouse gases for millennia if they stay waterlogged. However, an estimated 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions are released from peat soils due to their modification by humans. Reducing these emissions will help meet climate targets, with objectives to achieve this set out in action plans by the governments of the UK. This POSTnote describes the pressures on peat soils and summarises the challenges for reducing emissions from English peatlands.

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    Financial risks of nature loss

    Nature loss poses risks to the financial sector via the businesses they invest in, lend to, advise and insure. The financial risks of nature loss are embedded within the financial systems but are little understood or addressed by financial institutions. The POSTnote will outline the current understanding of the type and scale of the financial risks of nature loss and look at potential mechanisms to improve company level reporting and mitigation of both the financial risks of nature loss, and nature loss itself.

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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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    Sharing public sector data

    Sharing public sector data can improve public services, facilitate research and innovation, and inform policymaking. However, public sector bodies face challenges when sharing data, both within the public sector and externally. These include cultural and skills barriers, poor data quality, and lack of public trust. Sharing public sector data also raises security and privacy concerns. This POSTnote looks at how public sector data is shared in the UK, discussing the requirements for effective data sharing and the associated benefits, risks, and barriers.

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    Genome edited food crops

    Genome editing creates the possibility of making more precise alterations in the DNA of food crop plants than existing approaches. This POSTnote: describes genome editing technology; identifies which food crops are currently undergoing editing and why; describes the regulation and registration of genome-edited food crops; discusses issues around trade; and describes stakeholder views about the technology.

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