Haze crisis unlikely even if 2019 is drier: Indonesian official

File photo of motorcyclists riding in the haze on Oct 1, 2015, in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.
File photo of motorcyclists riding in the haze on Oct 1, 2015, in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.PHOTO: ST FILE

South-east Asia would likely be spared the scourge of haze next year despite predictions of a developing El Nino that could bring drier-than-usual conditions to the region in 2019, an Indonesian official said.

"We are very convinced... that we can handle this," Mr Nazir Foead, chief of Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency, told The Straits Times.

He pointed to improved efforts to protect Indonesia's fire-prone landscape in the aftermath of the 2015 haze crisis as well as improved coordination between government agencies, communities and firefighters.

He spoke on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks in Poland, where delegates from nearly 200 nations are expected to go deep into overtime today to try to finalise a deal. They are trying to complete a complex rule book that would put the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement into action. But progress has been slow because of issues such as how to differentiate national climate action plans between rich and poor nations.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2018, with the headline 'Haze crisis unlikely even if 2019 is drier: Indonesian official'. Print Edition | Subscribe