UWE Bristol academics featured in Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology briefing

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The Houses of Parliment

Two UWE Bristol academics have been featured in The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) briefings.

POST is a bicameral body within the UK Parliament. POST horizon scan for emerging research topics and therefore what is important for UK Parliament to know in terms of science.

Academics considered knowledgeable in these emerging areas are invited to an interview or to share literature on the topic.

POST then produces impartial, non-partisan, and peer-reviewed briefings, designed to make scientific research accessible to the UK Parliament. The briefings come in the form of POSTnotes and POSTbriefs.

Timely and forward thinking, they cover the areas of biology and health, energy and environment, physical sciences and computing, and social sciences.

Dr Jo Barnes, Associate Professor of Clean Air and Dr Daniela Paddeu, Senior Research Fellow, were both invited to be involved in two separate briefings:

Dr Jo Barnes, who is part of the Air Quality Management Resource Centre, commented on the experience:

“I was very pleased to be invited to contribute via interview to this POSTnote update on Urban Air Quality, as part of the Air Quality Expert Group. It is such an important medium to share our research with ministers and influence policy decisions.”

Dr Daniela Paddeu, who is part of the Centre for Transport and Society, commented:  

“It has been a great experience to engage with POST and contribute to their briefing on the future of freight! Definitely rewarding in terms of impact and hopefully it will help ministers and parliamentarians to understand the importance of freight for the future of the UK!”

Find out more about each briefing below:

Urban outdoor air quality

Air pollution is the greatest UK environmental public health threat. It is responsible for 29,000-43,000 UK deaths annually (based on 2019 data) and multiple health effects. Between 2017 and 2025, the total estimated NHS and social care cost will be at least £1.6 billion in England. 

Particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) are the air pollutants of most human health concern in urban areas. No safe lower limit has been identified for these pollutants, which disproportionately affect vulnerable groups.

The impacts of air pollution were highlighted by the 2013 case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, in which high levels caused a severe fatal asthma attack. Ella is the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as an associated cause of death following the 2020 inquest, which highlighted several organisations with responsibility for action on air pollution. 

Air quality has been the subject of infringement proceedings by the European Commission against the UK and court cases brought against the Government by the environmental law charity ClientEarth.

The Chief Medical Officer’s 2022 Annual Report focused on air pollution, stating that “we can and should go further to reduce air pollution”.

Read the full briefing.  

Digital technology in freight

The freight sector is becoming increasingly reliant on a range of digital technologies to support goods transport, warehousing and logistics. This includes sensors to support inventory management, navigation devices and cloud platforms. Emerging digital technologies are also being explored, including connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence (AI) tools that can simulate assets and predict maintenance. These technologies could potentially alleviate labour shortages, cut costs, reduce vehicle congestion and enable more transparent supply chains.

Implementing digital technologies to support freight raises several technical and social challenges. Many technologies require better availability of data-sharing infrastructure and sector-wide process standardisation. Furthermore, the development of a legislative framework is still required to guide the introduction of commercial CAVs and enable legal recognition of digital trade documents. The Department for Transport has committed funding to support technologies in freight, including a £7 million Freight Innovation Fund and several funds dedicated to achieving the Government’s net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

Read the full briefing.  

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