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Transition to renewable energy must be free of forced labor

  • Published on
    July 20, 2022
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Supply Chain
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The climate crisis is here. In a week where large parts of the world have seen soaring temperatures, fires, and damage to infrastructure, it is evident that the need to transition to clean energy is urgent.

Forced labor links to solar power

Solar power could be a strong alternative renewable energy source but the solar industry’s links to Uyghur forced labor raise serious questions about the human cost of the clean energy transition.

With almost 45% of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon supply found in the Uyghur Region and the four largest global solar panel suppliers implicated in the Uyghur forced labor system in China, the world’s solar panel industry is currently at high risk of forced labor.

Careful transition to clean energy

Some in the solar industry worry that legislation such as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that was recently passed in the U.S. will slow down the momentum of the clean energy transition.

But no corporation, including clean energy companies, should profit off of forced labor. Though tackling the environmental crisis is urgent, so is addressing human rights abuses.

The New Statesman reports:

“We shouldn’t have to reach our net-zero goals on the backs of those trapped in slave labour,” says Anna Cavazzini, a German Green MEP. She believes Europe can and should reach its climate targets without violating human rights. Jim Wormington, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, agrees no company should be complicit in human rights abuses.

Action against forced labor is vital

David Ball from the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign believes that new labor regulations will support companies to ask difficult questions of their suppliers in China. He said, “It will help to raise the profile of the issue and embarrass the Chinese government, forcing it to explain and defend its hyper-exploitative practices.”

Jewher Ilham from Freedom United’s partner organization, the Worker Rights Consortium, said “There’s no question that these bans, and their effort to end corporate complicity, are having a profound economic impact that is putting real pressure on the Chinese government to end state-sponsored forced labour.”

As governments and international organizations pursue solutions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve a sustainable future, we are urging world leaders to commit to a transition to renewable energy whilst ensuring that forced labor in mineral extraction and manufacturing is eradicated.

Sign the petition calling on world leaders to ensure clean energy is not tainted by forced labor.


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