May 28, 2021

Friday news roundup May 28, 2021

Friday news roundup May 28, 2021

A Dutch court ruled that Shell must cut its greenhouse gas emissions. A court in the Netherlands has ordered the energy company to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030, compared with 2019 levels. Friends of the Earth alongside six other bodies, including Greenpeace, and over 17,000 co-plaintiffs brought the landmark case. The court told the company it had a duty of care and that the level of emission reductions of the company and its suppliers and buyers should be brought into line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Shell currently plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which it believes aligns with the Paris Agreement, and says it will move “in step” with society’s progress in the transition from fossil fuels. In February, the company said it planned to curb its emissions through rapid growth of its low-carbon businesses, including biofuels and hydrogen. Lawyers for the plaintiffs successfully argued that the company had been aware for decades of the dangerous consequences of CO2 emissions and its targets remained insufficiently robust. Shell has said it will appeal the judgment.

Find a variety of IZA World of labor content on environmental regulations and labor markets.

Child labor in the poorest countries rose during Covid, says Human Rights Watch report. Researchers of the report— co-published with the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights in Uganda and Friends of the Nation in Ghana—interviewed 81 children between the ages of 8 and 17 in Ghana, Nepal, and Uganda. The majority said their family income had fallen as a result of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. All described undertaking work ranging from rickshaw driving and gold mining to carpet weaving and brick making to help meet their families’ needs. Jo Becker, director at HRW, said: “Most of the countries that we’ve looked at have good child labour laws that are in line with international standards, but because of Covid-19 restrictions labour inspections are down and without enforcement and monitoring employers are going to feel less pressure to apply the law.” In each of the countries studied, more than one-third of the children interviewed worked at least ten hours a day, in some cases every day. 

Read Eric V. Edmonds’ IZA World of Labor article: “Does minimum age of employment regulation reduce child labor?

The Arab world is among the top gender diversity improvers, according to a survey by CEO community YPF. Organizations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are among those to have made the most progress in gender distribution over the past five years, according to the survey. In the region, 71% of companies have progressed in this area, second only to Latin America (73%), with South Asia (68%) in third. The survey questioned 2,079 CEOs from 106 countries. However, companies in MENA have the least gender diverse boards; but, while just 16% of directors are women, that figure is not far behind Europe (21%) and the US (20%). Companies with women on their boards are more likely than their male-led counterparts (46% vs 37%) to offer services that help women reach the top, such as female leadership and mentoring programs. Almost one-third of female CEOs offered flexible work arrangements at their companies compared with 21% of male respondents. The biggest obstacle for CEOs in the MENA region is a lack of mentors, with 51% of respondents citing that as the main challenge compared with 36% in the rest of the world.

Read Nina Smith’s IZA World of Labor article on “Gender quotas on boards of directors.