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

  • POSTnote

    Natural mitigation of flood risk

    The UK’s flood risk from rivers, surface water and ground-water is projected to increase with climate change. Natural flood management (NFM) can be described as using the natural features of the land to store and slow down the flow of water. NFM is being piloted across the UK and its expansion is an objective of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. This POSTnote examines the evidence for the effectiveness of NFM at reducing flood risk, and successful governance approaches to implementing NFM measures.

  • POSTnote

    Online extremism

    Extremism is possible in any ideology, including (but not limited to) politics and religion. Extremism can affect mental well-being, amplify hostility and threaten democratic debate. The global reach of the internet poses social and technological challenges for safeguarding citizens from extremism online. When the Commission for Countering Extremism surveyed over 2500 members of the public in 2019, 56% agreed that a lot more should be done to counter extremism online. This POSTnote outlines how the online environment can be used for extremist purposes, how exposure to online extremism can influence people and potential strategies to counter extremist content online.

  • POSTnote

    Infrastructure and climate change

    Key infrastructure areas such as transport, energy, water and telecoms are vital to society and the economy. Evidence suggests that climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, posing a risk to infrastructure systems. This POSTnote looks at the main climate-related risks to the UK’s economic infrastructure, measures to reduce these risks and the main challenges to implementing resilience measures.

  • POSTnote

    UK insect decline and extinctions

    Insects provide vital goods and services for wildlife, food production and human health, and their decline threatens important natural processes. Despite some insects being in long-term decline, a few species are showing stable or increasing trends. Insects can respond to interventions quickly. This POSTnote summarises the evidence for insect declines in the UK, the drivers of trends, and interventions to support the recovery of insect populations.

  • POSTnote

    Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)

    According to global climate and economic models, removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere will be necessary to limit global warming to 1.5˚C. Among Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) techniques, these models assume that Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) could play a prominent role. This POSTnote summarises why BECCS has been included in the models, outlines the challenges and trade-offs of deploying at scale, and considers policy options for supporting its development.

  • POSTnote

    Climate change-biodiversity interactions

    There is increasing consensus among scientists and commentators for addressing conservation and climate change issues together, particularly through the development of intergovernmental agreements and targets. This POSTnote summarises the links between biodiversity loss and climate change, and outlines options for jointly addressing their drivers and effects on a global scale.

  • POSTnote

    Online safety education

    Online technologies are an integral part of many children’s lives. In 2017, the Children’s Commissioner for England identified shortcomings in online safety education and a number of stakeholders have called for action to increase ‘digital literacy’ in the UK. Upcoming changes to the curriculum mean that aspects of online safety will be taught in all schools from 2020. This POSTnote gives an overview of how children use the internet and the opportunities and risks it presents. It provides an overview of current online safety teaching in schools and elsewhere and how this will be affected by changes in the curriculum. It also looks at the role of content filtering and age verification technologies to improve online safety.

  • POSTnote

    Climate change and aviation

    Aviation has a growing impact on climate change, as demand for air travel increases globally. This POSTnote examines options for mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aviation, including new technologies, demand reduction and emissions offsetting. It also outlines UK and global policy frameworks for implementing measures to do so. 

  • POSTnote

    Brain-computer interfaces

    Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) measure brain activity and can be used to control digital devices. The focus of BCI development has been on using the technology to allow patients to control assistive equipment such as wheelchairs or prostheses. Beyond medicine they are under development for applications in entertainment, marketing and defence. This POSTnote looks at the underpinning technology, its applications and the associated ethical and regulatory challenges.

  • POSTnote

    Non-custodial sentences

    Non-custodial sentences are those that do not include imprisonment, such as discharges, fines and community orders. When sentencing an individual, criminal courts judge whether an offence is serious enough to impose a custodial sentence (either immediate imprisonment or a suspended sentence) or a non-custodial sentence. Criminal justice is devolved, so this POSTnote focuses on non-custodial sentences in England and Wales. In the year ending June 2019, 90% of sentences in England and Wales were non-custodial. This POSTnote presents sentencing trends and describes the non-custodial sentences currently used for adults and young people in England and Wales. It also reviews evidence on the effectiveness of non-custodial sentences and discusses policy considerations.

  • POSTnote

    Misuse of civilian drones

    Drones (also known as unmanned aircraft) are flying systems that do not carry a pilot. As the technology has become cheaper and more sophisticated, the use of drones for recreational and commercial purposes has grown, with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reporting a significant increase in the number of permissions obtained for operating commercial drones in the UK. Despite their potential to reduce costs, improve efficiency and provide new services, drones may be misused accidentally or for malicious purposes. For example, reports of drone sightings at Gatwick Airport in December 2018 grounded around 1,000 flights for almost 36 hours, affecting more than 140,000 passengers. In 2018, the Government introduced new limits on where drones can be flown and new registration and education requirements for drone operators and pilots. In January 2020, the new Government introduced an Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill to Parliament that included new police powers for enforcing aviation laws (such as the power to issue a fixed penalty notice for certain drone offences). This POSTnote looks at civilian drones and their applications, focusing on potential misuse and possible responses.