September sees downpour, highest maximum temperature, wildfire

James Kon

Three weeks ago, Brunei Darussalam was hit by an unprecedented heavy downpour which broke the record for the highest ever daily rainfall in Brunei at 275mm, initially held by a daily rainfall log of 252mm in September 1983.

The three-hour downpour left hundreds of homes across the Brunei-Muara District devastated by flash floods – some of which are still trying to recover. As recent as September 3, the Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department recorded the highest maximum temperature this year at a staggering 36.9 degrees Celsius. An increasing trend of annual maximum temperature is observed in Brunei. Just four days ago, a wildfire broke and destroyed 15 hectares of peat forests in Seria which may have been caused by high temperature.

This was outlined by Permanent Secretary (Energy) at the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI) Haji Azhar bin Haji Yahya during the opening ceremony of the Brunei National Climate Drafting Committee Workshop at the Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Advancement (ILIA) Building, Universiti Brunei Darussalam yesterday.

Brunei Darussalam, he said, “May only contribute to about 0.017 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. We must however do our part and do all we can to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 Degrees Celsius by 2100.

“We must row together with other countries to win the race against climate change. As an oil and gas economy, it is important now than ever that we pave our economy towards a low carbon pathway by mitigating our greenhouse emissions. With the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in ASEAN, Brunei has a lot of opportunities for reduction in emissions. We must tap and develop these opportunities further.”

Stressing on the importance of the Brunei National Climate Policy, he mentioned that the policy seeks to outline the opportunities of both climate mitigation and adaptation measures that would bring the nation to a low carbon growth.

On the policy framework, the permanent secretary hoped “to create a clear and coherent climate policy across different actors. Climate change is a national challenge, its issues cut across different sectors requiring a ‘Whole of Nation’ approach”.

ABOVE & BELOW: Permanent Secretary (Energy) at the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry Haji Azhar bin Haji Yahya (pic below) speaks at the workshop; and a section of the participants. PHOTOS: JAMES KON

“Towards this, the policy would provide long-term direction to government authorities, guidance to the private sectors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and signals to the market. The Brunei National Climate Policy will be a very important national strategic tool that will govern Brunei’s commitments towards tackling the global challenge of climate change.”

Over 35 different actors have been drafted as members of the Drafting Committee that will develop the Brunei National Climate Policy.

“We have members from the government, private sector, institutions, NGOs and even associations. In order to materialise not just the policy, but all the prospective climate efforts, every single actor must be involved.

“The workshop today is part of our approach that we have taken to ensure that our process is inclusive. We seek to involve all levels of the society to develop the strategies and tools together, with hope that it would lead to a ripple effect bringing about change in mindsets. The role of higher institutions is important to enable most of the efforts and the role of the government to ‘lead by example’ is as equally important to set the bar for action high,” Haji Azhar said.

In developing the policy, it must be ensured that it is carried out according to the Maqasid Principle as to align and anchor the core principle to the country’s philosphy of Malay Islamic Monarchy.

The Climate Policy Drafting Committee (CPDC) Workshop is organised by MEMI through the Brunei Climate Change Secretariat (BCCS).

Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate and Industry) at the MEMI Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abdul Wahab, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Energy and Power) at the MEMI Pengiran Haji Jamra Weira bin Pengiran Haji Petra and Deputy Permanent Secretary (Security and Welfare) at the Ministry of Home Affairs Ajman bin Haji Meludin were also present.

Other representatives present were Chief Executive Officer of the Mitsubishi Corporation, Green Brunei, Interim CEO of Brunei National Energy Research Institute, HSE Director of Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd, Head of Technology Department from Brunei LNG, HSE General Manager of Brunei Methanol Company, senior officials and officers and staff of MEMI, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and Economy, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, Ministry of Development and Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications.

The two-day workshop is the beginning of a series of meetings to draft the iterations of the policies. BCCS and ILIA facilitated discussions to develop new strategies for the upcoming climate change policy; exchange research data between participants; and to raise awareness on the exponential threat of climate change to Brunei.

This concerns BCCS’s proposed national target to ensure a reduction of Brunei’s greenhouse gas emissions in accordance to the Paris Agreements through climate mitigation and adaptation measures using five key strategies. Through this workshop, the CPDC intends to evaluate and identify global, regional and national trends to formulate a policy that would impact global climate change.