The Sultanate’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan and economic hubs along the coasts are under threat against the “adverse ramifications of climate change” as the sea level is expected to rise at 1.1 metre by the end of the century.
This was said by Minister of Development Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohd Juanda bin Haji Abdul Rashid during the opening of the Climate Action Week at the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition 2022 (Brunei MYCE 2022) yesterday, adding that the country’s mean monthly rainfall is forecast to increase to 500mm by 2050.
“We have experienced unpredictable weather with increasing number of floods, forest fires, major landslides and strong winds, severely impacting infrastructures and the environment that we call home,” the minister said.
Brunei accounts for only 0.025 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions annually, by virtue of the abundant rainforest accounting 72 per cent of land area that absorbs 97 per cent of the nation’s gas emissions.
However, the Sultanate’s mean temperatures have been increasing at a rate of 0.25 degrees per decade, and may reach an increase of four degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“It is crucial that we play our part in climate action, to minimise the effects and risks of climate change as part of our localised efforts to contribute to global action,” he said.
The Ministry of Development (MoD) through the Brunei Climate Change Secretariat, has been actively planning and implementing climate change policies and measures to address the ongoing issues, including the launching of the Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy (BNCPP) in July 2021 to pave the way for the Sultanate’s low carbon and climate-resilient future.
Through the policy, 10 key strategies have been identified from various sectors for lowering the nation’s net-carbon emissions, and will open up opportunities for investment in green or low carbon technologies.
Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohd Juanda said that although the Sultanate’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is low, small action in addressing climate issues can create a big difference.
“As a predominantly oil and gas producing country, Brunei has announced its ambition where we are moving towards net zero by 2050, that will be driven mainly through transition of our energy sector in particular renewable energy, zero routine flaring, efficient power management and soon, carbon pricing, as well as forest preservation,” he said.
Under Brunei’s Blue Carbon Initiative, 500,000 trees are to be planted by 2035 as part of the nature-based solutions to absorb emissions and enhance resilience as well as adaptation to climate change effects through the conservation and restoration of coastal ecosystems, he added.
The minister also shared that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to share the soon-to-be-established ASEAN Centre for Climate Change at the recent ASEAN-US Special Summit and partly outcome of Brunei’s ASEAN Chairmanship last year.
The centre will enable Brunei to be the hub of knowledge and research on all matters pertaining to climate change in the region.
“This year, we will also focus our efforts on completing the preliminary climate risks and disaster assessments, as we also begin developing our long-term strategy to identify actions to meet our nationally-determined contributions commitments,” the minister said, adding that awareness campaigns on the effects of climate change are crucial.
Realising that most of the Sultanate’s efforts are “reactive and small-scale”, the minister suggested that existing adaptation options can reduce climate risks with proper funding and quick implementation.
“It is important that we increase adaptation measures and future-proof our country and our communities,” he said.
The minister is also aware that limited capacity, technology and technical capabilities pose a challenge for the country to address the issue. Hence, he said, “knowledge and expertise sharing would strengthen and enrich our existing policies to prepare and respond to climate-related disasters”.
He continued, “There is no ‘silver bullet’ to the many challenges that we face. At the same time, strategic assistance with dialogue partners and more established agencies is still required to better develop the approach and implementation of Integrated Climate Change Action due to the relatively small pool of technical expertise available locally.”
Brunei Darussalam continues to stand for multilateralism, unity and regional cooperation, especially in tackling climate change. As part of its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2021, the Sultanate initiated the ASEAN Youth on Climate Action (ASEANyouCAN) which is a platform that empowers youth participation in official ASEAN inter-governmental discussions.