Research articles

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  • Greater photovoltaic deployment is critical to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, but the associated aluminium (Al) demand could pose a substantial global warming threat. Decarbonizing the electricity used for Al production and using less primary Al are the best ways to mitigate emissions.

    • Alison Lennon
    • Marina Lunardi
    • Pablo R. Dias
    Analysis
  • Although the clean residential heating transition has been proceeding rapidly in China, the climate, air-quality and health impacts as well as the household costs of various heaters are not well known. This study analyses air-quality–health–carbon interdependencies and costs of alternative heating options at the provincial level across northern China.

    • Mi Zhou
    • Hongxun Liu
    • Denise L. Mauzerall
    Article
  • Synthetic fibres derive from petrochemicals that are not renewable and cannot be recycled. Here, the authors show a top-down synthetic strategy that allows for the production of high-performance natural macrofibres from bamboo.

    • Zhihan Li
    • Chaoji Chen
    • Liangbing Hu
    Article
  • Agricultural trade challenges resource management domestically and globally. This study finds that up to 26% of global phosphorus fertilizer use is tied to export crops and livestock commodities, suggesting trade partners will need to coordinate to buffer domestic food supplies from phosphorus shortages.

    • Pietro Barbieri
    • Graham K. MacDonald
    • Thomas Nesme
    Article
  • The fertility transition, expressed through falling birth rates and increased well-being for women and children, is a function of many social and economic changes. This paper examines the role of access to electricity and modern cooking fuels on fertility rates, suggesting that cleaner energy and ending energy poverty contribute to gender equality and the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals.

    • Camille Belmin
    • Roman Hoffmann
    • Helga Weisz
    Article
  • The COVID-19 pandemic substantially altered consumption patterns, especially for health supplies such as personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves. This study of 11 countries examines both the rate and types of litter being discarded as a result of changing policies and recommendations during the first 14 months of the pandemic.

    • Keiron P. Roberts
    • Sui C. Phang
    • Anne M. Stringfellow
    Analysis
  • Sustainability calls often for knowledge to be co-produced between academics and non-academics, but little is known about whether and how such knowledge scales up. Focusing on co-produced climate-driven decision support tools for farmers, this study examines how efforts to disseminate the tools influenced their use.

    • Junyu Lu
    • Maria Carmen Lemos
    • Linda S. Prokopy
    Article
  • In-person conferences have typically resulted in a large carbon footprint while limiting inclusivity of those who can attend. This analysis uses the pandemic to gauge like-for-like environmental and demographic outcomes for virtual conference attendance.

    • Matthew Skiles
    • Euijin Yang
    • Manish Kumar
    Analysis
  • Existing methods to help decision-makers capture the interactions across Sustainable Development Goals do not incorporate the experience of the intended users. Using the case of Sweden, this study shows that most methods largely align with what decision-makers require for their application but show low performance on some critical features.

    • Lorenzo Di Lucia
    • Raphael Slade
    • Jamil Khan
    Article
  • Analysis of data from a two-wave survey of households in Nepal before and after the 2015 earthquakes shows that higher human capital helped them recover faster than did social capital and that the two forms of capital are partially substitutable.

    • Wenman Liu
    • Elisabeth Gerber
    • Arun Agrawal
    Analysis
  • Aqueous Zn batteries offer safety, but the Zn anodes are vulnerable to dendrite failure and side reaction. Here the authors show a low-cost electrolyte that involves hydrate salt and organic solvent but proves inflammable. The Zn battery cell delivers excellent performance even at a low temperature of −30 °C.

    • Daliang Han
    • Changjun Cui
    • Quan-Hong Yang
    Article
  • Despite concerns about plastics in the environment, not enough attention is paid to the impacts of the various stages of the plastics value chain globally. This study finds that most environmental and socioeconomic impacts from plastics are due to their growing production in coal-based economies.

    • Livia Cabernard
    • Stephan Pfister
    • Stefanie Hellweg
    Analysis Open Access