Azerbaijan: how the pandemic will affect the environment
JAMnews sat down with environmental activist Javid Qara to. talk about the positive and negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the environment of Azerbaijan.
Q: Pollution in Baku has decreased notably in the past few months. Can we expect this trend to continue in the post-pandemic period?
A: Unlikely. This is a temporary situation, and will be reversed once the pandemic is over. Everything will be as before…but it depends on how the government restores the economy. Whether it focuses on labor-intensive areas or on oil sales. Perhaps the government will choose an aggressive form of economic development, which will lead to negative economic consequences.
Another issue we face is that after the pandemic, environmental legislation may be weakened, agricultural activities may increase rapidly and protected territories may become vulnerable to exploitation.
Q: Can environmental activists help prevent environmental crimes in this period?
A: In recent months there has been large-scaled deforestation. We have tried at least to hinder this process, and even achieved some success. But now we can’t safely travel to those territories.
At the moment, there is less tree felling because of the suspension of construction work, the demand for wood has decreased, and due to the reduction in tourism, the need to clear forests for development has decreased. Unfortunately, there is still no control mechanism. Environmental requirements will decrease and the environment will be sacrificed for the sake of the economy
Q: How might the pandemic affect agriculture and cattle breeding?
A: Due to a decrease in the flow of tourists to the regions, the suspension of catering establishments and the ban on weddings and commemoration ceremonies, the demand for meat has decreased.
I’m traveling in villages now and I see that farmers are very worried about how to sell their livestock. If there is no demand for their products in the fall, they will have to sell it for nothing. Keeping cattle in winter requires additional costs.
Even if the economy gets back on its feet quickly, the purchasing power of people will not be restored for a while. A rapid recovery is unlikely. Economic stagnation will continue for several years after the pandemic, and if the pandemic drags on for some time, the financial reserves of the countries may be depleted.