BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei is vulnerable from the impact of climate change as rising sea levels will affect its economic hubs located along the coastline, the development minister said on Wednesday.

Dato Hj Muhammad Juanda Hj Abdul Rashid said the Brunei economy and capital city will be under threat from the effects of climate change, with sea levels projected to rise to 1.1m by the end of this 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 efforts to contribute to global action,” he said during the opening of Climate Action Week at the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition.

He said Brunei has not been exempted from the effects of the climate crisis, experiencing unpredictable weather with more floods, forest fires, major landslides and strong winds that caused damage to infrastructure and the environment.

“Mean temperatures have been increasing in Brunei at a rate of 0.25 degrees celsius per decade, and may reach an increase of 4 degrees celsius by the end of the century.

“Our mean monthly rainfall is forecast to increase to a mean of 500mm by 2050,” he added.

Visitors playing games at the activity corner set up as part of the Climate Action Week at the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Dato Juanda said existing adaptation measures can reduce climate risks if they are sufficiently funded and implemented more quickly.

“Adaptation is crucial. Our efforts today are still largely incremental, reactive and small-scale, mostly focusing only on current impact and near-term risks,” he said.

Adaptation involves reducing climate risks and vulnerability mostly via adjustment of existing systems.

He said limited capacity, technology and technical capabilities remain a challenge.

Further collaboration and sharing of knowledge and expertise would strengthen and improve existing policies to prepare and respond to climate-related disasters, the minister added. 

With the relatively small pool of technical expertise available locally, he said Brunei continues to support multilateralism, unity and regional cooperation in tackling climate change.

As a small country, Brunei accounts for 0.025 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions annually.

“Although our contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is low, we believe that we will be able to make a big difference with our small actions,” he added.

Dato Hj Muhd Juanda said Brunei’s rich rainforest made up 72 percent of the country’s land and absorbs 97 percent of its domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

He added that his ministry will focus on completing the preliminary climate risk and disaster assessment this year, as it begins developing the country’s long-term strategy in meeting the nationally determined contributions commitments. 

As part of the Paris Agreement, each country is required to outline their nationally-determined contributions to reduce emissions.

“We will also continue to raise awareness on the effects of climate change, [improve] climate change competences, as well as integrate climate-informed strategic planning and decision-making,” the minister added.