02 December 2019

Your weekly digest of policy news, funding competitions, and calls for evidence.

What’s been in the news?

European Space Agency receives huge budget increase

The European Space Agency (ESA) has secured a budget of €14.4 billion to deliver high-profile programmes over the next five years. This new figure represents the biggest budget increase in 25 years.

In addition to their research programmes, ministers have also agreed to send a mission crew to the moon. Astronauts are to check whether water could be drilled on the moon and if this water could be used to extract oxygen, delivering breathable air.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom is positive about the UK’s current investment in the Agency, stating, ‘We are delighted to be making this investment in ESA today. From improving communication and connectivity, to helping us monitor the impact of climate change and protect our power grid, our membership of this international organisation will further our position as a space, innovation and climate superpower.’

Currently, Germany is the largest financial backer of the Agency, committing up to 23% of the total budget. However, UK Science Minister, Chris Skidmore, is keen to negotiate an increase in the UK’s subscription in the agency to €440 million a year (up by 15%).

 Air quality

Europeans respond to survey on air quality problems

Over 27,000 citizens in the EU took part in a Eurobarometer survey, designed to explore peoples’ knowledge on air quality problems. More than half the respondents feel that good air quality has not been promoted enough by car manufacturers, energy producers, farmers and public authorities.

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: ‘I am encouraged to see that so many Europeans support action on air quality. In the EU, air pollution causes over 400,000 premature deaths every year and society pays a huge price including for healthcare, lost work days and damage to crops and buildings.’

Respondents feel they are not well-informed about the problems in air quality and better communication is needed to increase awareness of EU air quality standards. Additionally, respondents feel that more effective methods to tackling air quality problems should be proposed.


A decarbonised electricity supply offers most benefits

A team led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has found a way to measure the benefits and downsides of three paths to decarbonisation. Using a first-time combination of multiple modelling systems, the results showed that using wind and solar energy would bring environmental and health co-benefits. Transitioning to renewables-based electricity production would reduce air pollution from fossil fuels, thereby reducing negative health effects by up to 80%. Find out more here.

There are no bills currently accepting written evidence

Funding competitions

Deadline: 15 January 2020

Apply for a share of up to £1.5 million from the UK and US national offshore wind programme to reduce the costs of offshore wind development projects throughout the US.

Deadline: 22 January 2020

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is funding an opportunity to apply for a share of up to £5.4 million. This involves taking part in the application of whole genome sequencing to analyse cancers.

Deadline: 8 January 2020

Apply for a share of up to £25 million to deliver commercially viable innovative ideas that will have a significantly large economic impact.

Deadline: 15 January 2020

Apply for a share of up to £8 million to carry out a civil aerospace research project in the UK.

Deadline: 18 December 2019

The ATI Programme provides funding to encourage innovation in UK civil aerospace.  

Deadline: 26 February 2020

Funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge is offered to transform food production and help the industry move towards net zero emissions by 2040.

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