Top Stories

August 10, 2020

Human Rights 

U.N. hails ‘historic’ milestone in global drive to end child labour

The United Nations‘ labour agency has hailed a “historic” milestone in the drive to end child labour after a global treaty to protect children from sexual exploitation, forced labour and armed conflict was signed by all member states. The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s convention against the worst forms of child labour was backed this week by the Pacific island nation of Tonga, making it the first U.N. labour treaty to be ratified by all 187 of its members. The convention, which is legally binding on governments, was adopted in 1999 and has been ratified amid rising concerns that economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could reverse two decades of gains in combating child labour. The number of child labourers worldwide has dropped to 152 million from 246 million in 2000, according to the ILO. However, as the pandemic pummels the global economy, pushing millions of people into poverty, families may be under pressure to put their children to work for survival, campaigners say. (Thomas Reuters Foundation) 

Climate Change 

EU, Switzerland to link emissions trading platforms from September 

A planned link-up of the EU and Swiss carbon markets will be operational from September, the European Commission has said, giving companies a broader pool of potential partners with which to trade emissions permits. The EU carbon market is the bloc’s flagship policy for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which it does by forcing power plants, factories and airlines to buy permits to cover some of the pollution they emit. The EU-Swiss emissions trading link has been years in the making, but an initial launch date in May was delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Transactions of allowances between the two markets will be possible from 21 September through a provisional system to enable trading this year. The EU carbon market covered just shy of 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) last year. The Swiss carbon market is much smaller, covering less than 5 million tonnes of CO2e from industrial facilities in 2019, but expected to grow as Swiss power plants and some flights will be added to the market this year. (Reuters) 

Climate Change 

An opportunity to bring about a better future’: Top economists call for the end of the carbon economy

More than 100 of the world’s leading economists have urged policymakers to seize a “rare opportunity” to establish a greener, fairer economic system in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “As much as the present moment painfully underscores the weaknesses of our economic system, it also gives us the rare opportunity to reimagine it,” the academics wrote in an open letter this week. “As we seek to rebuild our world, we can and must end the carbon economy.” The group, which counts Jeffrey Sachs, Nobel Peace prize winner Joseph Sitglitz, Mariana Mazzicato, and Kate Raworth amongst its number, set out its case in a letter published in The Guardian that underscored how climate breakdown is disproportionately felt by low-income and marginalised communities. Furthermore, the experts argue that governments must actively phase out the fossil fuel industry by ending bailouts and subsidies to the sector in the wake of the pandemic, noting that a failure to do so will delay the clean energy transition crucial to reducing carbon emissions. (Business Green) 

Sustainable Fashion 

After ditching Boohoo, ASOS sets new sustainability and ethics requirements for brands

Fast fashion brand ASOS will require third-party fashion brands to comply with new ethical manufacturing and supply chain sustainability standards if they wish to be listed on its website, after it dropped Boohoo over allegations of human rights abuses at a supplier factory. ASOS stopped listing Boohoo’s products on its website last month, after an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times concluded that workers at one of the company’s supplier factories in Leicester were receiving as little as £3.50 an hour. The undercover reporter also claimed that the factory was flouting measures designed to stop the spread of Covid-19. The supplier, Jaswal Fashions, has challenged these claims, while Boohoo says it has launched an investigation. Building on this move, ASOS has asked all third-party brands listed on its site to make four new commitments, covering transparency and worker rights, by the end of 2020. (edie) 

Human rights 

Green groups in Singapore call for fairer treatment of migrant workers 

Amid fresh concerns over the prolonged isolation of Singapore’s dormitory-dwelling migrant workers and their mental health, 23 environmental groups in the country have called for decent working and living conditions for the workers and fair reward for their labour. Highlighting the link between environmental justice and systemic inequalities that migrant workers in Singapore face, the groups said improved dormitory standards do not address other problems the workers face: High recruitment fees, low wages, lack of employment protection and access to healthcare, among other issues. Such conditions have created a division between them and the citizens, long-term residents and expatriates of Singapore, they said in a statement. “This division is a microcosm of global inequality, which is deeply intertwined with environmental injustice,” they stated. Singapore’s efforts to shield itself from the effects of climate change are also aided by migrant workers who help in land reclamation and the building of seawalls, green buildings and solar installations, the groups said. (Eco-Business)