POST Newsletter

A quarterly update on POST's work, following the meetings of our parliamentary Board.

November 2011

Future work programme

At the POST Board meeting on November 1st, the Board agreed the following subject areas for future POSTnotes, which will be started when resources permit.

  • Low Carbon Technologies for Energy-intensive Industries:  energy-intensive industries such as iron and steel, chemicals and cement are responsible for 45% of carbon emissions from the business and public sectors in the UK. This POSTnote will look at the prospects for low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency measures in these industries, and consider the impact of current and proposed UK policies on emissions reduction. 
  • Land Sharing versus Land Sparing: a key area of debate in agricultural and conservation policy is over whether it is environmentally better to grow more food on less land, thereby freeing up other land for ecological habitats, or to try to combine conservation and food production on the same land. This POSTnote will set out knowledge gaps in the evidnece base and challenges for the land sparing approach.
  • GM Crops in Developing Countries: the recent POSTnote on GM crops and food security did not consider the issues around GM crops in developing countries, due to space constraints.   
  • Bioenergy: bioenergy is a broad term covering a range of renewable plant or animal 'biomass' resources that can be converted for electricity generation, heating and transport. The Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency has recently stated that the projected carbon savings from bioenergy are based on flawed carbon accounting and should be revised downwards. This note will give a broad overview of bioenergy technologies and the issues associated with their future deployment.
  • Super Farms: recent years have seen proposals to build very large livestock facilities - so called "super farms" - in the UK. This POSTnote will examine the potential enviornmental, economic, animal welfare and cultural impacts of super farms in the UK. It could also look at consumer attitudes to such developments and explore alternative policy options for addressing UK food security and agricultural sustainability issues.
  • Measuring Wellbeing: recent years have seen numberous projects to develop high quality facts-based information that can be used to form an overall view of societal wellbeing and its evolution over time. This POSTnote will examine projects for measuring quality of life and wellbeing, discuss the range of possible indicators and look at the potential uses and limitations of any such measures.

More details of POST's current work can be found on this website.

Recent news

Kyoto Science and Technology in Society Forum: POST Board member Chi Onwurah MP and the Director, Prof David Cope, took part in the 2011 Science and Technology in Society Forum in Kyoto in October. Chi Onwurah chaired a plenary session on the future of information and communication technologies. Technical visits were also made to ICT-related national research institutions in Kyoto, Kobe and Tokyo.

Annual EPTA Conference: former POST Board member Lord Willis of Knaresborough and the Director took part in the Annual EPTA Council and Conference held at the Bundestag in Berlin, 19-20th October. The Director chaired a session on geo-engineering at which Lord Willis presented the result of the Commons Science and Technology Committee's joint work with the US Congress' committee.

Foresight Global Environmental Change event: On 26th October, POST hosted a meeting, chaired by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, to discuss the final conclusions of the government’s Foresight project on global environmental change and human migration over the next 50 years.

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