Picture: 123RF/ALINA MD
Picture: 123RF/ALINA MD

1. Dead heat

Global meteorological agencies agree that 2020 was a scorching year, but was it the hottest on record? Nasa and the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service have 2020 in a dead heat with 2016 as the warmest. The UK Met Office puts it second, while Japan’s weather agency has it in third place. The differences are negligible, says the world body. But all four key agencies in reports last week agree 2020 is part of the warmest decade on record. The average global temperature was 14.9°C, about 1.2°C above the 1850-1900 average. The warmest six years have all occurred since 2015. Greenhouse gases declined 7% due to Covid shutdowns, not enough to affect temperature.

2. Bitter fruit

The US must do more to prevent forced labour and exploitation in the global supply chains of US companies, anti-trafficking ambassadors said during a virtual panel hosted by the state department last week. Holding firms liable for child labour overseas and compelling them to ensure their operations are slavery-free were among the suggestions. US Customs & Border Protection said it would ban cotton and tomato imports from China’s Xinjiang region over allegations of the use of forced labour from Uighur Muslims detained in camps. China says the camps are vocational training centres that fight extremism. Britain and Canada are to ban goods from Xinjiang.

3. Wei to go

Sweden, which in October banned Huawei technology from its 5G infrastructure citing security worries, this week began auctioning off its wireless spectrum to network operators. None may use Huawei technology. But Swedish firm Ericsson, which has scored from the Huawei veto, isn’t exactly overjoyed. It has reportedly been lobbying the government to reconsider the ban as it fears reprisals from China, where its sales are booming.

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