Latest Research

  • Brief Communication |

    Comparing relevant indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals with other indicators of biodiversity trends shows little relation between the two, because the former more strongly reflect socioeconomic indicators.

    • Yiwen Zeng
    • , Sean Maxwell
    • , Rebecca K. Runting
    • , Oscar Venter
    • , James E. M. Watson
    •  & L. Roman Carrasco
  • Article |

    Moral concerns matter for decisions in markets where activities generate negative externalities such as pollution emissions. With controlled experiments in which trading creates pollution, this study shows that a large portion of producers refrain from polluting even at the cost of forgoing profits.

    • Axel Ockenfels
    • , Peter Werner
    •  & Ottmar Edenhofer
  • Article |

    Air pollution harms health but rises with economic activity, which aids health. This study uses long-range Saharan dust to isolate impacts, finding a significant rise in Sub-Saharan infant mortality from particulate pollution.

    • Sam Heft-Neal
    • , Jennifer Burney
    • , Eran Bendavid
    • , Kara K. Voss
    •  & Marshall Burke
  • Analysis |

    Little is known about how human factors influence the patterns of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the intertidal zone, a transitional boundary between terrestrial and marine environments. This study shows that human activities affect both the distribution and the deposition of PAHs.

    • Min Lv
    • , Xiaolin Luan
    • , Chunyang Liao
    • , Dongqi Wang
    • , Dongyan Liu
    • , Gan Zhang
    • , Guibin Jiang
    •  & Lingxin Chen
  • Article |

    Global responses of crops to warmer temperatures will affect agricultural sustainability. This study of maize, rice, soybean and wheat projects yield reductions of 3–13% under 2 °C warming.

    • Xuhui Wang
    • , Chuang Zhao
    • , Christoph Müller
    • , Chenzhi Wang
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Ivan Janssens
    • , Josep Peñuelas
    • , Senthold Asseng
    • , Tao Li
    • , Joshua Elliott
    • , Yao Huang
    • , Laurent Li
    •  & Shilong Piao
  • Article |

    After forest loss, public subsidies often encourage reforestation with tree plantations. This modelling study finds that between 1986 and 2011, Chile’s forest subsidies probably reduced biodiversity without increasing carbon stored in aboveground plant material.

    • Robert Heilmayr
    • , Cristian Echeverría
    •  & Eric F. Lambin
  • Article |

    Forest planting is considered a natural climate solution, but effects on soil carbon are unclear. This study, in northern China, finds that planting forests increases carbon in soils poor in it and vice versa.

    • Songbai Hong
    • , Guodong Yin
    • , Shilong Piao
    • , Ray Dybzinski
    • , Nan Cong
    • , Xiangyi Li
    • , Kai Wang
    • , Josep Peñuelas
    • , Hui Zeng
    •  & Anping Chen
  • Article |

    Air pollution and dust can reduce photovoltaic electricity generation. This study shows that, without cleaning and with precipitation-only removal, particulate matter can reduce photovoltaic generation in polluted and desert regions by more than 50%, with soiling being the major cause of reduction.

    • Xiaoyuan Li
    • , Denise L. Mauzerall
    •  & Mike H. Bergin
  • Article |

    Ethnographic and anthropological records of 91 societies show that chronic resource scarcity and environmental unpredictability are linked to higher subsistence diversity and resilience.

    • Carol R. Ember
    • , Erik J. Ringen
    • , Jack Dunnington
    •  & Emily Pitek
  • Analysis |

    A reliable charging infrastructure is critical to wider adoption of electric cars. With large-scale social data and machine intelligence, this study shows the importance of the quality, not just the quantity, of charging stations to consumers, suggesting policy design should include consumer data.

    • Omar Isaac Asensio
    • , Kevin Alvarez
    • , Arielle Dror
    • , Emerson Wenzel
    • , Catharina Hollauer
    •  & Sooji Ha
  • Analysis |

    The renewable polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF) has potential to replace the fossil-based polyethylene terephthalate, but the energy-intensive production hinders wider adoption. This study shows that PEF from industrial CO2 emissions and non-food biomass can save 40.5% emissions and energy use.

    • L. Jiang
    • , A. Gonzalez-Diaz
    • , J. Ling-Chin
    • , A. Malik
    • , A. P. Roskilly
    •  & A. J. Smallbone
  • Article |

    A smart management of hydropower, combined with solar and wind energy, can provide the flexibility needed to power West Africa and at cheaper cost than using natural gas, according to a simulation model.

    • Sebastian Sterl
    • , Inne Vanderkelen
    • , Celray James Chawanda
    • , Daniel Russo
    • , Robert J. Brecha
    • , Ann van Griensven
    • , Nicole P. M. van Lipzig
    •  & Wim Thiery
  • Perspective |

    For seafood, concerns about food security often clash with those about sustainability. This Perspective proposes the reconciling concept of ‘sustainable commoditization’ and identifies actions to catalyse this for seafood in the Global South.

    • Ben Belton
    • , Thomas Reardon
    •  & David Zilberman
  • Article |

    Natural disasters can obstruct first responders when and where they are needed most. This analysis models the response of emergency service stations during flooding events in England to find major impacts on ambulance and fire services at a time of escalating flood risks to the country.

    • Dapeng Yu
    • , Jie Yin
    • , Robert L. Wilby
    • , Stuart N. Lane
    • , Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts
    • , Ning Lin
    • , Min Liu
    • , Hongyong Yuan
    • , Jianguo Chen
    • , Christel Prudhomme
    • , Mingfu Guan
    • , Avinoam Baruch
    • , Charlie W. D. Johnson
    • , Xi Tang
    • , Lizhong Yu
    •  & Shiyuan Xu
  • Article |

    Biomass pyrolysis for renewable energy and chemicals offers sustainability advantages but is expensive. This study shows a route to improve both the sustainability and economic viability of biomass pyrolysis by using pyrolytic gases and waste heat to fabricate high-quality carbon nanomaterials.

    • Shun Zhang
    • , Shun-Feng Jiang
    • , Bao-Cheng Huang
    • , Xian-Cheng Shen
    • , Wen-Jing Chen
    • , Tian-Pei Zhou
    • , Hui-Yuan Cheng
    • , Bin-Hai Cheng
    • , Chang-Zheng Wu
    • , Wen-Wei Li
    • , Hong Jiang
    •  & Han-Qing Yu
  • Analysis |

    While political interference with science is not new, this analysis of Australia’s largest coal mine being approved despite and over the objections of scientific managers provides a thorough case study in how environmental considerations are being ignored.

    • M. J. Currell
    • , D. J. Irvine
    • , A. D. Werner
    •  & C. McGrath
  • Review Article |

    Culture influences low-carbon energy transitions and as a result should be considered in the design of relevant policies. Focusing on a selection of low-carbon technologies and behavioural practices, this Review highlights the role of culture with respect to different dimensions of sustainability.

    • Benjamin K. Sovacool
    •  & Steve Griffiths
  • Article |

    Photovoltaic panel conversion generates heat that reduces the energy efficiency and lifetime of the panel. A photovoltaic panel cooling strategy by a sorption-based atmospheric water harvester is shown to improve the productivity of electricity generation with important sustainability advantages.

    • Renyuan Li
    • , Yusuf Shi
    • , Mengchun Wu
    • , Seunghyun Hong
    •  & Peng Wang
  • Article |

    The long-term impacts on mortality risks of exposure to disasters have not been analysed. Using data from Indonesia collected before and after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, this study examines the effects of the disaster on mortality risks of survivors over the subsequent ten years.

    • Elizabeth Frankenberg
    • , Cecep Sumantri
    •  & Duncan Thomas
  • Review Article |

    A review of marine spatial planning literature identifies links with climate change and gaps in the practical integration of both concepts.

    • Catarina Frazão Santos
    • , Tundi Agardy
    • , Francisco Andrade
    • , Helena Calado
    • , Larry B. Crowder
    • , Charles N. Ehler
    • , Sara García-Morales
    • , Elena Gissi
    • , Benjamin S. Halpern
    • , Michael K. Orbach
    • , Hans-Otto Pörtner
    •  & Rui Rosa
  • Perspective |

    Policies and discussion regarding sustainable goals has overlooked inland fisheries despite its importance for both food security and livelihoods. This Perspective looks at synergies between SDGs in regards to this critical food and economic service.

    • Abigail J. Lynch
    • , Vittoria Elliott
    • , Sui C. Phang
    • , Julie E. Claussen
    • , Ian Harrison
    • , Karen J. Murchie
    • , E. Ashley Steel
    •  & Gretchen L. Stokes
  • Review Article |

    The ocean genome is the genetic material present in marine biodiversity. While technological advances are enabling exploration, conservation and innovation of this resource, the associated capacities are inequitably distributed among countries.

    • R. Blasiak
    • , R. Wynberg
    • , K. Grorud-Colvert
    • , S. Thambisetty
    • , N. M. Bandarra
    • , A. V. M. Canário
    • , J. da Silva
    • , C. M. Duarte
    • , M. Jaspars
    • , A. Rogers
    • , K. Sink
    •  & C. C. C. Wabnitz
  • Article |

    Transforming the energy system to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2100 is vital to fight climate change. This target can be achieved in California, USA, by 2050—alongside air quality benefits especially in disadvantaged communities—by using bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration.

    • Tianyang Wang
    • , Zhe Jiang
    • , Bin Zhao
    • , Yu Gu
    • , Kuo-Nan Liou
    • , Nesamani Kalandiyur
    • , Da Zhang
    •  & Yifang Zhu
  • Analysis |

    The world keeps urbanizing. This study finds that since 1985 global urban lands have expanded four times faster than previously recognized and faster than population is growing.

    • Xiaoping Liu
    • , Yinghuai Huang
    • , Xiaocong Xu
    • , Xuecao Li
    • , Xia Li
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Peirong Lin
    • , Kai Gong
    • , Alan D. Ziegler
    • , Anping Chen
    • , Peng Gong
    • , Jun Chen
    • , Guohua Hu
    • , Yimin Chen
    • , Shaojian Wang
    • , Qiusheng Wu
    • , Kangning Huang
    • , Lyndon Estes
    •  & Zhenzhong Zeng
  • Analysis |

    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) can reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) but it needs additional power that increases water use for plant cooling. This study models the impacts of retrofitting CFPPs with CCS on water resources globally and finds areas at risk of water scarcity.

    • Lorenzo Rosa
    • , Jeffrey A. Reimer
    • , Marjorie S. Went
    •  & Paolo D’Odorico
  • Article |

    Water and wastewater infrastructure worldwide faces unprecedented challenges. A new model can assess the environmental and economic implications of a hybrid water supply system that provides a centralized surface water supply with distributed direct potable reuse of municipal wastewater.

    • Lu Liu
    • , Evan Lopez
    • , Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio
    • , Lauren Stadler
    • , Yuefeng Xie
    • , Pedro J. J. Alvarez
    •  & Qilin Li
  • Analysis |

    Understanding patterns of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector can help to improve the sustainability of transportation. This study analyses the most important determinants of energy and GHG intensities for light-duty vehicles, buses, railroads and aircraft.

    • Andreas W. Schäfer
    •  & Sonia Yeh
  • Perspective |

    This Perspective argues for a global research prioritization framework to advance sustainable intensification, an increase in agricultural yields on existing land and respecting ecosystem integrity, noting research gaps and suggesting priorities.

    • Kenneth G. Cassman
    •  & Patricio Grassini
  • Analysis |

    Conservation agriculture prioritizes soil health and diverse cropping systems. This meta-analysis finds multiple benefits, including for water conservation and profitability, from conservation-agriculture practices in South Asia.

    • Mangi Lal Jat
    • , Debashis Chakraborty
    • , Jagdish Kumar Ladha
    • , Dharamvir Singh Rana
    • , Mahesh Kumar Gathala
    • , Andrew McDonald
    •  & Bruno Gerard
  • Article |

    Agriculture has a massive and growing footprint. This study finds that optimizing fertilizer and major crops globally could reduce by 50% needed global cropland, allowing restored vegetation on spared land to sequester carbon.

    • Christian Folberth
    • , Nikolay Khabarov
    • , Juraj Balkovič
    • , Rastislav Skalský
    • , Piero Visconti
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Ivan A. Janssens
    • , Josep Peñuelas
    •  & Michael Obersteiner
  • Article |

    The effect of education on climate change risks is integral to the relation between climate and development, but difficult to quantify. This article finds potential increases in emissions as well as HDI values due to improved educational attainment in developing countries.

    • Brian C. O’Neill
    • , Leiwen Jiang
    • , Samir KC
    • , Regina Fuchs
    • , Shonali Pachauri
    • , Emily K. Laidlaw
    • , Tiantian Zhang
    • , Wei Zhou
    •  & Xiaolin Ren
  • Article |

    Cleaner hydrogen production can help energy sustainability. The use of yeast biomass-derived materials to develop efficient, eco-friendly and economical catalysts—compared with industrially adopted catalysts—is shown to improve hydrogen production as a strategy towards a sustainable energy system.

    • Jitendra N. Tiwari
    • , Ngoc Kim Dang
    • , Siraj Sultan
    • , Pandiarajan Thangavel
    • , Hu Young Jeong
    •  & Kwang S. Kim
  • Article |

    Carbon use often tracks economic development. This study finds the top 5% of Chinese households by income have 17% of the nation’s carbon ‘footprint’ in 2012 but that such inequality declined with China’s economic growth.

    • Zhifu Mi
    • , Jiali Zheng
    • , Jing Meng
    • , Jiamin Ou
    • , Klaus Hubacek
    • , Zhu Liu
    • , D’Maris Coffman
    • , Nicholas Stern
    • , Sai Liang
    •  & Yi-Ming Wei
  • Article |

    Natural disaster risk assessments neglect impacts on households’ well-being. A model to quantify disaster impacts more equitably shows that, in a hypothetical earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area, poorer households suffer 19% of the asset losses but 41% of the well-being losses.

    • Maryia Markhvida
    • , Brian Walsh
    • , Stephane Hallegatte
    •  & Jack Baker
  • Analysis |

    The sustainability of wild fisheries is limited by the capture of non-target species. This study estimates that such ‘bycatch’ from US fisheries totalled 1.93 million tonnes in 2010–2015, with a 10.5% discard rate. Despite considerable improvements, certain longline, trawl and gillnet fisheries have persistent bycatch issues.

    • Matthew S. Savoca
    • , Stephanie Brodie
    • , Heather Welch
    • , Aimee Hoover
    • , Lee R. Benaka
    • , Steven J. Bograd
    •  & Elliott L. Hazen