The Sultanate has made clear its commitment in highlighting the effects of climate change and the importance of climate action.
Recently, at the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition 2022 (Brunei MYCE 2022), climate change was the main agenda as part of the Climate Action Week with the theme ‘Towards a Low Carbon and Climate-Resilient Brunei Darussalam’.
Throughout the conference, local and international speakers comprising experts from Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam discussed topics which touched on carbon market, electric vehicles, clean energy, nature-based solutions, climate resilient infrastructure, climate resilient crop and research and innovation on adaptation and resilience.
The event was organised with the objective of raising awareness, especially the primary industry, on the impact of gas emissions and to educate the public on climate action by reducing the carbon footprint in human activities. The aim was also to increase the usage of green services such as the installation of solar panels at home, complexes and primary industries.
In his opening speech, Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda bin Haji Abdul Rashid said the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and economic hubs along the coasts are under threat from the “adverse ramifications of climate change” as the sea level is expected to rise to 1.1 metres by the end of the century.
“We have experienced unpredictable weather with an 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 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,” said the minister.
Through the Brunei Climate Change Secretariat, the Ministry of Development (MoD) has been actively planning and implementing climate change policies and measures to address the ongoing issues, including the launch 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. The strategies also include increasing the use of electric vehicles and increasing the total share of renewable energy.
The minister said 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 the 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 also noted that there is no ‘silver bullet’ to the challenges.
“Strategic assistance with dialogue partners and more established agencies are 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,” he said.
The Sultanate 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), a platform that empowers youth participation in official ASEAN inter-governmental discussions.