COVID-19 has been the focus of a majority of countries around the world this year and rightfully so. The virus has already claimed over a million lives worldwide and infected over 34 million people. In Indonesia, there have been over 300,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths. A majority of the world went into lockdown in March and eased restrictions in July or August. These lockdowns took a toll on every economy as industrial production stopped and other industries, such as entertainment and leisure industries had no choice but to halt operations.
An imperative aspect of every nation’s COVID recovery plan is the revival of the economy, as many have lost their jobs, and several industries are expected to remain unprofitable. Indonesia has geared its focus towards this feat. The government previously allocated 90 trillion rupiahs towards climate change mitigation efforts, however, that figure has recently been reduced to 80 trillion rupiahs. Additionally, the Indonesian government has introduced a bill that deregulates previous labour and environmental restrictions. This bill intends to attract more business investment. However, deregulation of labour laws will reduce labourers’ wages, permit longer hours, and allowing part-time workers. Furthermore, this bill will be a rollback on standards that were set to protect the environment, such as regulation on forest burning, and restrictions on productivity by palm oil cultivators. All these measures reduce the costs of corporations and maximize productivity at the expense of the wellbeing of labourers and the environment.
Although the Indonesian government has backtracked on their goals for climate change mitigation, there is some positive news surrounding the progress of the building a more sustainable Indonesia. Due to the halting of many industries during the COVID-19 economic lockdown, there have been lower levels of deforestation. Between January and July this year, only 64,000 hectares of land has been burned which is a stark decrease from the 134,000 hectares that were burned between the same time-period in 2019. Although the Indonesian government has cut back their spending on climate change mitigation, the UN allocated $103.8 million to REDD+ programme, and Indonesian forestry conservation and climate change mitigation platform.
There are many conversations and government actions surrounding COVID-19 and its effects on Indonesia’s journey to a more sustainable environment. However, it is important to remember the effects of climate change, what is a stake, and make decisions based on those factors. Although the degradation of land and the release of carbon emissions has reduced as a result of reduced activity this year, the effects of unsustainable living from years past increasingly affects Indonesia. Indonesia’s weather patterns continue to reflect the hotter climates. The dry season is expected to last well into October, which is typically the start of rainy weather. The BMKG, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency has warned that the lower levels of rainfall will affect water irrigation and negatively impacting the agricultural sector. It will also affect water supplies in remote areas.
Activity rating: * Falling Behind
It has been a difficult year for countries worldwide and Indonesia is no exception. The government must focus on the health of civilians as well as the health of the economy. However, given the effects of climate change on many of Indonesia’s industries as well as the devastating impact on species and forestry, it is important climate change be remembered within the push for economic revival. Currently, Indonesia is doing poorly in focusing on what is best for its environment as it shifts its gears towards what is best for the economy.
Minister of Environment and Forestry – Siti Nurbaya Bakar
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Indonesia Country Manager Ruby Orim