Meld. St. 33 (2012–2013)

Climate change adaptation in Norway — Meld. St. 33 (2012–2013) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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8 Climate change adaptation in different sectors

There is nothing new about the idea of taking weather and climatic conditions into account in planning processes. However, climate change will make it more challenging to deal with the climate-related problems Norway already faces, and there will be new challenges to deal with in addition. Plans will have to be adjusted to take account of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events and gradual changes in the natural environment. Planning for a different climate means that current planning processes have to address both today’s climate and the projected future climate.

It is particularly important to take climate change adaptation into account in all investments with a long time horizon, regardless of sector. However, some sectors will be more strongly affected by climate change than others. Several of these, such as the electricity supply and transport sectors, have already started to address climate change adaptation through surveys, analyses and policy development in their own fields. It is important to ensure that this work is systematically incorporated into planning and decision-making processes in the different sectors.

In recent years, sectoral authorities have begun reviewing the situation and implementing the first steps towards climate change adaptation. The Directorate for Nature Management and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate have for example both carried out reviews and presented action plans and strategies for climate change adaptation. In 2010, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration completed a three-year review of the impacts of climate change on transport infrastructure. The Norwegian Building Authority has also carried out major research projects and studies relating to the construction sector in cooperation with SINTEF Building and Infrastructure. In 2009, the Government presented a white paper on climate change and the agriculture and forestry sectors, which discussed both mitigation and adaptation (Report No. 39 (2008–2009) to the Storting, Klimautfordringene – landbruket en del av løsningen (Climate challenges – agriculture part of the solution. Summary in English). There is considerable variation in how far the different sectors have progressed in their work on climate change adaptation. Some actors are already carrying out practical work, whereas others have barely started. The main focus is on reviews and surveys, and most of the work has been organised in the form of projects.

8.1 Nature management

Climate change has impacts on both species composition and biomass production in ecosystems, and will have positive effects on some species and adverse effects on others. This section discusses how nature management in Norway can be adapted to climate change.

The report Adapting to a changing climate (NOU 2010: 10) points out that nature’s capacity to adapt to rapid climate change is limited, but that there are ways of strengthening the adaptive capacity of ecosystems and species. High species diversity and wide genetic diversity combined with many different habitats and niches make ecosystems resilient, in other words capable of withstanding and adapting to environmental change. High biodiversity and resilience is therefore important for adaptation to climate change. One example is the importance of a wide variety of pollinators for some types of plant production. Healthy ecosystems can also reduce the impacts of climate change on human society. For example, forests can prevent landslides and erosion, and riparian vegetation can reduce inundation during smaller flooding events. Thus, the natural environment can fulfil an important function in adaptation of human society to climate change.

Much of the nature management work being done today consists of important measures to ensure that biodiversity is resilient, which can also be classified as climate change adaptation. The overall goal of climate change adaptation in the field of nature management is to maintain the adaptive capacity of natural systems. This goal must be achieved by finding a balance between conservation and sustainable use, and must be incorporated into the management of species and habitat types that may be exposed to climate change, for example by designating priority species and selected habitats under the Nature Diversity Act. It is also important to maintain the range of ecosystem services provided by habitats such as wetlands, forest and river systems. As part of the work of following up decisions under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Norway is seeking to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on biodiversity through conservation and sustainable use strategies that maintain biodiversity.1 This work involves finding good ways of integrating climate change considerations into nature management.

Activities in many different sectors and administrative areas have impacts on the natural environment. This makes it essential to take an integrated approach to environmental management and to consider climate change in conjunction with other environmental pressures. The report Adapting to a changing climate highlights the importance of ecosystem-based management for strengthening the adaptive capacity of the natural environment, and this is also emphasised in decisions under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The same approach is being used in Norway as a basis in adaptation efforts in nature management, in the form of a good balance between conservation and sustainable use.

The Nature Diversity Act sets out principles for sustainable use, and is an important tool for promoting ecosystem-based management. The authorities must use these principles as a basis when evaluating and designing measures and new policy instruments. One of the fundamental requirements of the Act is that all decisions must, as far as is reasonable, be based on scientific knowledge of the population status of species, the range and ecological status of habitat types, and the impacts of environmental pressures (section 8). Any pressure on an ecosystem must be assessed on the basis of the cumulative environmental effects on the ecosystem now or in the future (section 10). In the absence of adequate information on biological, geological or landscape diversity or cumulative environmental effects on the ecosystem, the aim must be to avoid possible significant damage, in accordance with the precautionary principle (section 9). The costs of avoiding environmental degradation must be borne by the project owner (the user-pays principle, section 11), and methods, techniques and siting of activities must be chosen to give the best results for society as a whole (section 12). There are similar provisions on the management of marine species in section 7 of the Marine Resources Act. At the same time, section 14 of the Nature Diversity Act requires measures under the Act to be weighed against other important public interests.

The capacity of the natural environment to withstand extreme weather and to moderate the negative impacts of climate change are important ecosystem services. Research shows that including more aspects of the value of biodiversity in planning and management of the natural environment in order to enhance ecosystem services can bring major benefits. At national level, Norway needs more knowledge and a better overview of ecosystem services and their importance for economic development and human well-being, and also the possible impacts of the loss and degradation of ecosystems. Norway’s follow up of the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study will be able to provide a valuable contribution here. The Government has appointed a committee to review the values associated with biodiversity and ecosystem services in Norway so that we are in a better able to integrate this knowledge into decision-making processes. The committee has been asked to focus particularly on ecosystem services that will be important in dealing with climate change.

The Conference of the Parties under the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010 adopted the Aichi targets, 20 targets for the conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecosystem services. According to these, the countries that are parties to the Convention are to update their national biodiversity action plans by 2015, in line with the new targets. Norway is preparing a national action plan for biodiversity that will meet its obligations. Climate change considerations and the capacity of ecosystems to help society adapt to change will be integrated into the action plan.

Conservation and climate change adaptation

Substantial work has been done over many years to implement Norway’s nationwide national park plan and various thematic conservation plans. This work is now nearing completion, and large areas, particularly in the mountains, have been safeguarded. However, some lowland habitat types still have little statutory protection, and many protected areas are small. Climate change may increase the vulnerability of such areas to climate-related factors such as strong winds and intense precipitation. Steps are already being taken to integrate climate change considerations into the management of protected areas, for example by increasing the size of protected areas and adjusting their boundaries. The connectivity of terrestrial habitats is important, since it enables animals and plants to move to other, more suitable areas over time if ecological conditions change as the climate changes. This intensifies the need for good land-use and general planning, so that networks of natural habitat can be maintained and allow species to move when necessary. Areas that stretch from sea level to the mountains or through several vegetation zones can be particularly important in this connection.2,3

In the vicinity of urban areas, the Government will make active use of land-use planning under the Planning and Building Act and the Nature Diversity Act to safeguard areas of natural environment that moderate the impacts of flooding and extreme weather events on housing and other infrastructure. Establishing protected areas can also be an appropriate tool to use in this work.

Invasive alien organisms and climate change adaptation

Alien organisms are species, subspecies or populations that have been introduced outside their natural past or present distribution by human agency (populations established in Norway before 1800 are considered to be indigenous). Some of them are invasive, meaning that they displace native species and disturb local ecosystems. Climate change is expected to make it easier for alien organisms to become established in Norway and some of them may pose a threat to native biodiversity. The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre’s report Alien species in Norway – with the Norwegian Black List 2012 includes ecological risk assessments of species that do not occur naturally in Norway. These provide an important basis for eradicating, containing and controlling invasive alien organisms in Norway.

Chapter IV of the Nature Diversity Act deals with the import and release of alien organisms. Its provisions will be further elaborated in two sets of regulations. The regulations relating to the planting or sowing of foreign tree species for forestry purposes enter into force on 1 July 2012, and require anyone who wishes to plant or sow foreign tree species to obtain a permit. Applications are processed by the county governors. Regulations relating to the import and release of alien organisms are being drawn up. Risk factors are expected to change as a result of climate change, and these regulations may help to protect Norway’s native biodiversity by preventing the introduction and spread of invasive alien organisms. A similar provision prohibiting the release of alien organisms is set out in section 7 of the Marine Resources Act. Cooperation between sectors will play a key role in action against invasive alien organisms that become established and spread more rapidly as a result of climate change. The Government’s Strategy on Invasive Alien Species contains a programme of measures to prevent the spread and establishment of invasive alien species, which includes both measures to be taken by the individual sectors and joint measures on which they are to cooperate. The strategy was drawn up in cooperation between ten different ministries.

To ensure good control of the spread of invasive alien organisms, it will be important to ensure that the new legislation is properly enforced and applied, and to develop early warning and rapid response systems for new invasive alien organisms. Many counties have already established or are implementing action plans for dealing with alien organisms. This work must be continued, since it is part of Norway’s efforts to meet its international commitments to introduce measures to eradicate, contain and control invasive alien organisms. Policy instruments for eradication, containment and control, information work and mapping of alien organisms must also be coordinated between sectors.

Climate change adaptation and outdoor recreation

Making sure that everyone has the opportunity to take part in outdoor recreation on an everyday basis is an important objective of the Government’s efforts to promote active outdoor recreation in Norway. The Government is drawing up a national action plan for state involvement in the provision of outdoor recreation areas and on arrangements for public access, which is to be completed in summer 2013. Its overall objective is to identify which areas should be set aside for outdoor recreation and what arrangements are needed for access, for example low-impact facilities that make access easy for as many people as possible. The action plan will focus particularly on the need to set aside areas and make arrangements for public access near urban areas. It will also discuss the need for adaptation to the changing climate. More public information may have to be provided, such as more information about the rules on open fires as the risk of forest fire increases, and more information on sheep ticks as their distribution area expands.

Climate change adaptation in different ecosystems

Many of the current policy instruments for management of mountain areas were not primarily established with climate change adaptation in mind, but may nevertheless be important in safeguarding species and habitats in a changing climate. About 75 % of the total area of Norway’s national parks is in the mountains, and the corresponding figures for protected landscapes and nature reserves are 71 % and 22 % respectively. When the national park plan has been completed, about 27 % of Norway’s mountain areas will be protected under the Nature Diversity Act.

Montane forest is the term used to describe forest growing so high up that the trees clearly show the effects of the harsh climate. In general, Norway’s montane forests are less influenced by forestry operations and have a higher proportion of old-growth forest than those in lowland areas. Many threatened species are associated with old-growth forest, and montane forests are therefore important for their survival. Climate change may allow forest to become established in areas that are currently above the treeline. This could have positive effects on forest species, but will reduce available areas of habitat for alpine species, creating future conservation challenges. On the other hand, montane forests in many areas are under severe pressure because of holiday cabin developments, and species that live in these habitats may therefore be particularly vulnerable to further pressure such as climate change.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to wild reindeer and other species that are adapted to alpine habitats. To help these species to survive, it is therefore important to reduce other negative factors such as habitat loss and fragmentation. To safeguard vulnerable habitats and threatened species in the mountains, the Government will focus on strengthening an integrated land-use planning regime for mountain areas, including montane forest, and will incorporate climate change considerations into planning processes. The Government will consider whether current policy instruments are sufficient to ensure integrated land-use planning incorporating climate change considerations in mountain areas. The need for new national guidelines for planning and designing holiday housing in the mountains will be considered. One of the objectives of the regional plans for Norway’s national conservation areas for wild reindeer is to safeguard continuous areas of wild reindeer habitat. These plans are to be completed by the end of 2012, and their implementation through decisions at county and municipal level will play a key role in ensuring continuous areas of wild reindeer habitat in the future.

Climate change may also alter food availability for many species, including mountain and forest game species. Populations must be regulated in a way that takes other pressures and climate change into account. As one element of a sustainable wildlife management regime, it may be appropriate to consider adjustments of quotas and open seasons for game species to ensure that the vulnerability of different species to climate change is taken into account.

Forest covers about 130 000 square kilometres or about 34 % of mainland Norway. About 50 % of the most seriously threatened species in Norway (1838 species) are associated with forest. Conditions for many of these have improved with increasing environmental awareness in the forestry industry. Forests are also very important as an economic resource and for outdoor recreation and enjoyment of the outdoors – the local outdoor areas most used by many Norwegians are in forest. Forests provide other important ecosystem services too – they store carbon, are a source of renewable energy and building materials, and help to control landslides and avalanches, flooding, runoff and erosion. For example, a buffer zone of riparian forest plays an important part in stabilising river banks.

The way forests are managed strongly influences their productivity, the species composition and age distribution of trees, forest health, species diversity and the capacity of forests to deliver ecosystem services. Climate change intensifies the need for adaptation in the forestry industry, including the development of seeds and plant material that are better adapted to the climate. Climate change will also make it more important to continue current practices such as ensuring that forestry roads follow appropriate routes and taking other steps to prevent erosion, particularly in steep terrain and flood-prone areas.

Forestry conservation areas that cover several vegetation zones can enable some species to spread more readily, and thus facilitate climate change adaptation in forest habitats. In privately-owned areas, forest conservation is largely voluntary, involving cooperation between landowners and the environmental authorities. In addition, publicly owned areas of forests are protected. It is essential to ensure that areas of the highest conservation value are protected.

Responsibility for forest management in Norway is shared: the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for biodiversity and outdoor recreation interests, and can make use of the Nature Diversity Act, the Planning and Building Act, the Oslo Forest and Countryside Act and funding for protection of forest areas on a voluntary basis. The Norwegian Agricultural Authority administers the Forestry Act, the Natural Hazards Act and various regulations and grant schemes for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Forums for cooperation between the agricultural and environmental authorities have been established. This cooperation is also intended to facilitate climate change adaptation in the forest sector.

Climate change may result in changes in species and habitat diversity in the cultural landscape. For example, with higher temperatures and a longer growing season, scrub and woodland will encroach more quickly on open landscapes unless steps are taken to counteract this. Various arrangements and grant schemes have been established for the maintenance of cultural landscapes. Many of these form part of the national and regional environmental programmes under the Agricultural Agreement, which have total almost NOK 5 billion per year. The national environmental programme includes general support for maintaining agricultural areas and cultural landscapes, while the regional environmental programmes contain more specific measures to safeguard cultural landscapes, the cultural heritage and biodiversity, and also pollution- and climate-related measures. The environmental authorities are cooperating with the agricultural sector to ensure that economic and other types of instruments counteract negative effects such as overgrowing of open landscapes.

The Nature Diversity Act provides the legal authority to designate priority species and selected habitat types, which makes it possible to adopt regulations to safeguard species and habitats that are at particular risk. So far, five selected habitat types and eight priority species have been designated, several of which are associated with the cultural landscape. Various arrangements, including the scheme for specific environmental measures in agriculture and the regional environmental programmes, include grant schemes for management and restoration of habitats such as wetlands, hay meadows and coastal heaths, and for ditching and drainage of cultivated land. There are regional water management plans that provide a basis for targeted measures to reduce runoff and nutrient loss from agriculture along rivers and lakes. These help to improve the ecological status of rivers and lakes, in accordance with the EU Water Framework Directive.

The Government considers the instruments used by the agricultural sector for conservation of the agricultural landscape and associated species and ecosystems to be important in addressing climate change. They improve management of the agricultural landscape and make vulnerable habitat types more resilient to climate change. Climate change may also make it necessary to make adjustments to ensure targeted and efficient use of agricultural policy instruments. It is also essential to ensure close coordination of the use of policy instruments by the agricultural and environmental authorities.

About 10 % of mainland Norway is covered by wetlands, mostly peatland – bogs or mires. Many of these areas can play a part in flood control, groundwater recharge and moderating water flow4. However, the capacity of wetlands to retain water varies greatly, and depends on hydrological processes. Floodplains and riparian ecosystems are generally recognised as one of the most important defences against flood damage and erosion of riverbanks. This means that safeguarding and restoring such wetlands can be a win-win solution, which reduces vulnerability to climate change, enhances carbon storage and maintains habitats for many different species.

The fact that the ecosystem services wetlands provide are public goods that benefit society as a whole, whereas the value for those responsible for managing a specific area is not as obvious, creates major challenges in wetland management. Many wetlands have been severely degraded by processes such as straightening and channelling stretches of river, culverting, road-building alongside rivers, and more recently also the spread of alien species. Sound knowledge and information about the importance of ecosystem services from wetlands is therefore needed, so that drainage and development of peatlands and other wetlands can be avoided through integrated land-use planning.

Some wetlands have been protected, but there are several types that are not included or are under-represented in Norway’s system of protected areas. Particularly in highly productive lowland areas, wetlands are under severe and growing pressure from development projects for housing, industry and infrastructure. Many wetlands have also been drained, have become overgrown or have changed in other ways, reducing their capacity to buffer flooding or drought resulting from climate change.

A survey has shown that about 350 of Norway’s wetlands need restoration to maintain their conservation value. A national plan for the restoration of priority wetlands is being drawn up. The purpose is to improve conditions for threatened species, safeguard threatened habitat types and enhance ecosystem services. Efforts to restore and maintain wetlands so that they can continue to deliver ecosystem services will be continued.

Freshwater habitats and species may be affected by more frequent and larger changes in water flow, temperature changes and an increase in runoff and accompanying pollution as a result of climate change. The integrated, cross-sectoral system of water resource planning under the Water Management Regulations makes an important contribution towards ecosystem-based management of freshwater. This system applies to all of Norway’s groundwater, freshwater bodies and coastal waters to one nautical mile outside the baseline. The overall objective is for all water bodies to achieve good ecological and chemical status.

Norway has been divided into eleven national river basin districts and five5 river basin districts that are shared with Finland and Sweden. These divisions are based on the natural boundaries of river basins and are independent of county and municipal boundaries. Management plans are being drawn up for each region in accordance with the requirements of the Water Management Regulations. They include both monitoring programmes and programmes of measures to achieve the environmental objectives. Measures have to be implemented under legislation administered by various authorities, particularly the Pollution Control Act, the Water Resources Act, the Watercourse Regulation Act, the Aquaculture Act, the Planning and Building Act and the Nature Diversity Act. Economic instruments are also important, including grants from the agricultural authorities that encourage the implementation of measures to reduce runoff, for example establishing buffer zones, grassed waterways and hydrotechnical installations.

Under the Common Implementation Strategy for the Water Framework Directive, a guidance document has been drawn up on river basin management in a changing climate. Climate change adaptation is an important consideration in developing both monitoring programmes and programmes of measures as part of these plans.

To reduce the vulnerability of freshwater species to climate change, the Government will seek to ensure that populations are as resilient as possible by regulating harvesting and other removal, carrying out stock enhancement measures where appropriate, maintaining areas with specific ecological functions, removing barriers to migration created by physical disturbance or alteration, and taking steps to prevent new developments from creating such barriers. Cross-sectoral cooperation is also need to ensure stable flow and good water quality even if precipitation patterns change.

Textbox 8.1 Restoration and climate change adaptation

A number of Norway’s river systems have been physically altered, for example by channelling for timber rafting, in connection with construction of buildings or other infrastructure, or to build flood defences. One example is the river Enningdalselva, which runs from lake Bullaren in Sweden to the sea in Iddefjorden near Halden in Østfold1. The river bed was cleared and the river channelled over a long period, which had negative impacts on aquatic organisms. Retaining walls were built along sections of river bank and vegetation and eddies and backwaters removed, with the loss of breeding sites and shelter for species such as freshwater pearl mussel and salmon. A large-scale restoration project has been initiated and a joint management plan drawn up to improve the situation. In addition to providing better ecological conditions for a number of species, the restoration project will also mean that sand and gravel deposits near the river can function as retention basins and control flooding in the river. With good planning and close cooperation, such solutions generally result in win-win situations.

1 Part of one of the river basin districts shared between Norway and Sweden.

The overall framework for management of Norwegian sea areas has been laid down in the integrated management plans for these areas, while the Water Management Regulations and the Planning and Building Act are important for integrated management of the coastal zone. An important element of both systems is a monitoring programme for selected indicators to give an overview of status and trends for ecosystems. The Marine Resources Act provides the legal basis for management of Norway’s living marine resources. The countries around the Northeast Atlantic have extensive monitoring programmes for ecosystems and fish stocks. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) uses the monitoring results in drawing up its advice on fish stocks, which is a key part of the basis for resource management. Quota recommendations from ICES are based on updated information on stocks, ecosystems and climatic and environmental factors, and decisions on quotas for stocks that are harvested are based on this advice. This system is essential for ensuring that harvesting levels are in accordance with the goal of maintaining resilient marine ecosystems. Scientists consider that most Norwegian stocks are being harvested within safe ecological limits.

It is becoming increasingly important to adapt the marine management regime to ensure that the cumulative environmental effects of rising sea temperature, ocean acidification and human activity do not cause any degradation of ecosystem services from the marine environment. This is essential to the maintenance of resilient ecosystems. Cumulative environmental effects on marine ecosystems are taken into account in the management plans for Norway’s sea areas. In the updated management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area (Meld. St. 10 (2010–2011)), the Government emphasised the need to build up knowledge about ocean acidification and climate change, for instance by putting in place a long-term programme with adequate coverage to monitor changes in ocean acidity and the impacts of these changes. This is needed both to gain an overview of the scale of the problem and to provide projections of future trends.

New challenges will arise as regards the management of previously ice-covered areas that become ice-free as a result of climate change. This is further discussed in Chapter 9 on the Arctic.

Further development of the knowledge base

The impacts of climate change on the natural environment are increasing the need for knowledge-building and close monitoring of changes. Research on adaptation and vulnerability and systematic collection of data through mapping and monitoring of environmental change are crucial for our ability to establish sound, effective adaptation measures. The knowledge base for climate change adaptation in nature management needs to be further developed through research, mapping and monitoring. The municipalities, the business sector and other relevant actors also need better advice and information on the important role nature plays in making human societies resilient to climate change.

Over the years, a large volume of data on both terrestrial and marine ecosystems has been collected through mapping and monitoring programmes. In recent years, some monitoring programmes have been modified to incorporate the impacts of climate change. If this information is to be used, it is essential for all decision makers to have access to good data. Several systems have therefore been developed to provide access to data from mapping and monitoring programmes. These include the database «Naturbase» run by the Directorate for Nature Management, and the Species Map Service run by the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre. A map-based web application called Vann-Nett provides data on ecological status and trends in water bodies, and the MAREANO programme is mapping the seabed in Norwegian waters and making the data available. The website publishes the results of environmental monitoring programmes, and the new portal will provide access to data from a range of bodies and institutions involved in monitoring of Norwegian sea areas.

Monitoring of changes in the status and distribution of species that are vulnerable to climate change, such as Arctic and alpine species, will be continued. Knowledge about alien species, including their environmental impacts, pathways of introduction and the effects of climate change, needs to be improved through mapping, monitoring and research. The rising volume of shipping in northern waters and the potentially higher risk that new alien species will be introduced will intensify the need for knowledge. It will also be important to follow up the new Norwegian Black List from 2012 and establish a good overview of measures already in use to eradicate, contain and control the most invasive alien species and identify where action needs to be taken.

The Norwegian Nature Index measures the status and trends of biodiversity in nine major ecosystems in Norway, and the first edition was published in 2010. It is based on monitoring data and expert assessments. The first edition was only the beginning of a long-term process of following environmental change to provide a constantly improving basis for deciding on priorities for environmental measures and for mapping and monitoring. One aim is to replace the large numbers of assessments by experts with monitoring and modelling based on monitoring data in the next edition of the Nature Index.

Systematic, long-term monitoring is an essential basis for evaluating the impacts of climate change on the natural environment. It is particularly important to develop long time series of monitoring data. The Nature Index has identified a number of major gaps in our knowledge, especially as regards coastal waters and certain groups of organisms, including plants and invertebrates.

Although many mapping and monitoring projects are already in progress, further development of the knowledge base is still needed, and relevant actors need sound advice and information on climate change adaptation in nature management and the important role nature has to play in making human societies resilient to climate change. This can be provided through better use of already existing information channels, for example www.miljø, which provides information and advice to the municipalities, and by strengthening cooperation between different levels in the public administration.

A number of research projects have been initiated to learn more about the effects of climate change on the natural environment and the value of ecosystem services in climate change adaptation. These efforts are being continued. It is particularly important to focus on the pace and impacts of climate change in Arctic areas and how these developments contribute to the cumulative environmental effects on ecosystems, and on ocean acidification and climate change and the synergistic effects they may have. Norwegian waters will be some of the first areas in the world to be affected by ocean acidification, and it is therefore important to continue the current monitoring programmes for marine ecosystems.

8.2 Agriculture and forestry

The agricultural and forestry sector in Norway includes a wide range of activities, including reindeer husbandry and other activities based on farming and forestry resources. Adaptation of these activities to climate change is essential to prevent or limit damage both from extreme weather events and from more gradual processes of change, and at the same time ensure that potential production gains resulting from climate change are realised. Well-functioning ecosystems need to be maintained to prevent forest fire, landslides/avalanches, flooding and other problems caused by climate change. Soil structure will need to be improved and more climate-resilient production systems developed. The agricultural and forestry sector is responsible for managing large areas of Norway, and sound management here can reduce the risk of damage in other sectors. A dynamic agricultural and forestry sector is therefore a vital basis for addressing the challenges of climate change.

Climate change adaptation in the agricultural and forestry sector has been reviewed in connection with the 2009 white paper Climate challenges – agriculture part of the solution and the report Adapting to a changing climate (NOU 2010: 10). Another white paper dealing with agriculture, forestry and food policy more generally was published at the end of 2011 (Meld. St. 9 (2011–2012) Landbruks- og matpolitikken. Velkommen til bords. In Norwegian only).

Management of land resources

The large areas of land managed by the agricultural and forestry sector provide vital common goods and ecosystem services for society as a whole. Farmland, forest and other areas that have not been developed can act as important buffers against climate-related events such as landslides, avalanches and flooding. If such areas are developed for buildings, roads and other infrastructure, parts of the surface are made impermeable, resulting in more surface water runoff and stormwater management problems.

Climate change will result in a longer growing season and make it possible for primary production to increase, but will also speed up the spread of forest and scrub in open landscapes. Cultivated land must be used actively and grazing pressure in uncultivated areas must be maintained to prevent overgrowing, which displaces species and habitats associated with agriculture and causes the loss of agricultural and cultural heritage and landscapes. The visual impact of the cultural landscape is of great value in connection with tourism. On the other hand, the growth of trees and scrub on open agricultural landscapes may enhance carbon storage and offer niches for new species, and may in certain cases help to prevent landslides, avalanches, drifting snow, etc. Grant schemes have been established to ensure that active use of farmland continues, including its use as pasture. Cooperation between the environmental and agricultural authorities is needed to maintain hay meadows and other traditional types of farmland that are no longer used for production.

According to the Government expectations for regional and municipal planning adopted by Royal Decree on 24 June 2011, the Government expects the counties and municipalities to take steps to prevent development of and building on valuable designated agricultural areas, areas of natural environment and outdoor recreation areas. Regional plans should identify valuable agricultural areas and through long-term development strategies draw clear boundaries between development areas and agricultural land and green structures.

Grant schemes in the agricultural sector

Over the past 25 years, an increasing proportion of the financial support provided through the Agricultural Agreement between the state and the farmers has been channelled through grant schemes intended to maintain and improve the environment. Many of these are designed to deal with runoff problems and maintenance of the cultural landscape, and are therefore relevant to climate change adaptation. Some grant schemes are key elements of the national environmental programme, and play a part in counteracting overgrowing of open agricultural landscapes (area-based schemes for agricultural production and the cultural landscape, a number-based scheme for livestock kept at pasture outdoors), while others are part of the regional environmental programmes (for example schemes to reduce nutrient runoff from farmland and to maintain the cultural landscape). Other environmental grant schemes are organised at municipal level, for example a scheme for specific environmental measures in agriculture.

From 2013, a climate and environment programme has been established under the Agricultural Agreement. This will provide funding for projects on topics including greenhouse gas emissions, climate change adaptation, reducing runoff, the cultural landscape and biodiversity. Total funding of NOK 18 million has been allocated to the programme for 2013, and will be administered by the Norwegian Agricultural Authority and the county governors. Knowledge development relating to climate change adaptation will be a natural topic to include in the programme.

Well-drained soils with a good soil structure are resilient to high precipitation. In 2013,a new grant scheme for drainage projects was therefore introduced, with an allocation of NOK 100 million. This will encourage more ditching and draining, and will increase the adaptive capacity of the agricultural sector and reduce erosion and runoff from cultivated areas.

The state compensation scheme for crop damage is important in reducing the risk borne by farmers. On the other hand, it is important to ensure that it does not discourage necessary adaptation to climate change. At present, there is a deductible for any claim, so that farmers bear part of the risk themselves. This means that it is not profitable for farmer to continue producing a specific crop or variety if there is extensive crop damage for several years in a row. In this way, the scheme encourages necessary adaptations to climate change, while protecting farmers’ financial position in the short term.

National emergency stocks of seed

In 2011, high rainfall reduced seed corn production in Norway, making it necessary to import larger quantities in 2012. In the longer term, it may become difficult to obtain GMO-free seed. During negotiations on the 2011 Agricultural Agreement, it was therefore decided to establish a grant scheme from 2012 for the maintenance of contingency stocks of seed corn. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food adopted regulations for the scheme in October 2012. A complete review of the situation as regards crop seed (both grain and other crops) is also needed, to consider possible measures for ensuring stable supplies of seed in the future. In the first instance, the Ministry has asked the Norwegian Agricultural Authority to review the problems associated with ensuring stable supplies of seed, for example clover and grass seed. In response to the recent food crises, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has also started an assessment of whether to re-establish national contingency stocks of seed corn, as announced in the 2011 white paper on agricultural, forestry and food policy.

Genetic resources in agriculture and forestry

To adapt agriculture and forestry to climate and environmental change and changes in production conditions, it is essential to safeguard the genetic resources in crops, livestock and trees. Unless this is done – whether resources are actively used by individual farmers or maintained by breeding programmes, by companies, in gene banks or in situ – genetic diversity will be lost. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about 75 % of crop genetic diversity was lost between 1900 and 20006. Breeding livestock and crops that are adapted to a changed climate requires a long-term strategic effort and access to varied genetic material. The Nordic countries are cooperating on the management of Nordic genetic resources through NordGen (the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre). The Norwegian company Graminor AS has national responsibility for plant breeding in areas where the Norwegian market does not have sufficient supplies of foreign varieties. Grants are available through the Agricultural Agreement for plant breeding and the development of new varieties to ensure that Norwegian agriculture and horticulture has access to a range of disease-resistant crop varieties that are adapted to the climate. The overall responsibility for breeding and seed of Norwegian forest plants lies with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. A foundation called the Norwegian Forest Seed Center is responsible for practical aspects of this work under an agreement with the Ministry.

The Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre initiates and coordinates activities relating to the conservation and sustainable use of Norway’s genetic resources. Norway is involved in international cooperation in the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture to draw up global status reports and action plans to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of these resources. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity provide the international framework for access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits that arise from their use.

Textbox 8.2 The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was established by the Norwegian Government in 2008 to provide a safe repository for seeds from the world’s seedbanks. The seed vault is in a cavern excavated into a mountain in the permafrost, and the temperature is maintained at -18 °C. Even in the event of a power cut, the samples will remain frozen. This means that gene banks can feel confident about depositing duplicates of their valuable collections here. Five years after the seed vault opened, it has received more than 750 000 seed samples from 53 gene banks in Norway and other parts of the world.

Figure 8.1 Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Longyearbyen

Figure 8.1 Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Longyearbyen

Source Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB scanpix

Water pollution

A wetter climate will exacerbate water pollution resulting from nutrient runoff and the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture, and may result in eutrophication, algal blooms and pollution of drinking water. Climate change may also result in changes in the degradation of chemical pesticides and their environmental impacts. For example, frequent, intense precipitation events may increase runoff and leaching of pesticides. In particular, more rain-related flooding just after crops have been sprayed will increase the risk of pollution of drinking water.

The Norwegian Agricultural Environmental Monitoring Programme measures soil erosion, nutrient runoff and pesticide loss from agricultural areas. Data from the programme are used to further develop and target environmental instruments in the agricultural sector, in implementing the Water Management Regulations and in national and international reporting.

Amended soil management (no autumn tilling) is the most important measure for reducing runoff of nutrients and particulate matter to river systems. In autumn 2011, about 60 % of all cereal acreage was left under stubble. Although this is a good way of reducing runoff from agriculture, research indicates that fungi and weeds are a greater problem in these areas than in areas that are tilled in autumn. As a result, farmers tend to use more pesticides. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has adopted an action plan to reduce the risk of damage to health and the environment associated with the use of pesticides and make Norwegian agriculture less dependent on chemical pesticides.

Higher precipitation will increase problems related to the loss of nutrients and runoff to lakes and rivers. The Water Management Regulations require the implementation of measures to achieve good ecological status in river systems by 2021. In the long term, climate change may increase runoff from agricultural areas, and this must be taken into account in future agricultural policy. The situation will be particularly challenging in parts of the country where livestock density is high or that are vulnerable to erosion. There are wide variations in natural conditions, climate and farming methods in Norway, and priorities for measures to prevent pollution and nutrient runoff, and thus losses to farmers, must therefore be varied accordingly. Measures of these kinds are covered by grant schemes under the Agricultural Agreement. They will also be included in programmes of measures under the Water Management Regulations. The system of management cycles and rolling six-year management plans under the regulations makes it possible to adapt measures to climate change and its consequences.

Plant and animal health

A milder climate and higher precipitation may increase the problems associated with plant and animal diseases, pests and weeds. Plant pests will be able to reproduce more rapidly, spread more widely and survive the winter better. Further development of the «VIPS» forecasting system will be an important way of preventing crop losses and poor crop quality. The system provides forecasts of the risk of damage from plant diseases, pests and weeds for important agricultural and horticultural crops, and helps farmers assess the need to use pesticides. Fungal diseases are particularly likely to become more of a problem as precipitation rises. Researchers have observed more widespread occurrence of fungi that produce mycotoxins, which can be harmful to both people and animals. Growing problems associated with plant diseases, pests and weeds may result in more use of pesticides, making it even more important to continue efforts to make agriculture less dependent on chemical pesticides and reduce the risks associated with their use.

In order to address the challenges associated with climate change, it is important to maintain an effective and clearly targeted inspection and enforcement regime and ensure that active monitoring and emergency preparedness activities are part of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s responsibilities in the field of animal health. These activities must be based on ongoing research and knowledge development by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute. We need to know which serious animal diseases are expected to show a higher risk of introduction, spread and establishment in Norway, and what implications this will have for agriculture and food production.

The results of monitoring and control programmes are vital to an understanding of the situation at any given time. Monitoring programmes, contingency tools and plans for combating animal disease must be in accordance with current legislation and updated risk assessments.

The effects of climate change on the animal health situation, including the expected increase in the number of disease-causing organisms, will make it necessary to step up efforts to combat disease. Environmental change and a change in the balance between pathogens and hosts, together with the possible increase in the incidence of zoonoses, must be met with sound emergency planning and preventive measures.

Reindeer husbandry and climate change adaptation

Reindeer husbandry will be strongly influenced by climate change. The Norwegian Reindeer Husbandry Act is intended to facilitate sustainable use of reindeer grazing resources to benefit both those involved in reindeer husbandry and society as a whole. Reindeer husbandry is to be maintained as an important basis for Sami culture, in accordance with Article 110a of the Norwegian Constitution and the provisions of international law on indigenous peoples and minorities.

Reindeer husbandry in Norway is organised in the traditional way, with migration between seasonal grazing grounds. It is therefore vulnerable to climate change, which adds to the pressure from other commercial interests, land-use conflicts and predators. Such external pressures have implications for use of grazing resources, migration routes and the timing of migration. The 2007 Reindeer Husbandry Act gave the reindeer husbandry districts greater responsibility for management of grazing resources. Reindeer numbers need to be kept stable at a level that allows flexibility in the way different areas are used. For example, reindeer owners need to be able to move to other areas if the normal winter grazing grounds are inaccessible because of deep snow or the formation of a hard ice crust («ice-locked»). A system of emergency groups with representatives of the authorities and the reindeer husbandry industry has been established, and a group can take action if large areas of reindeer grazing are inaccessible because of weather conditions.

More knowledge is needed about interactions between different impacts of climate change, and how this will affect different reindeer grazing areas. New knowledge about the consequences of climate change for reindeer husbandry may make it necessary to review adaptation measures in the industry at regular intervals. The Norwegian Reindeer Husbandry Association already makes regular assessments of the need for measures to mitigate the impacts of factors such as overgrowing of grazing areas and changes in the management regime.

The forestry industry and climate change adaptation

Forest plant breeding programmes in Norway need to be stepped up to obtain the climate-related benefits described in the 2012 white paper on Norwegian climate policy (Meld. St. 21 (2011–2012)), and to ensure that Norwegian forests are adapted to future climate change, as discussed in the 2011 white paper on agricultural, forestry and food policy (Meld. St. 21 (2011–2012)). Forest plant breeding with a view to adaptation makes use of the wide genetic diversity in Norway’s forest trees to produce plant material that is more resilient to climate change. Forest plant material produced through breeding programmes can be used across wider climatic gradients than material produced by natural reproduction. Climate change adaptation is an important element of the strategy for forest plant breeding for 2010–40 drawn up by the Norwegian Forest Seed Center.

Improving the resilience of forests is an important element of the adaptation of a sustainable forest management regime to climate change. Appropriate measures include good forest hygiene, the choice of tree species, the choice of resilient seed trees and stand boundaries, appropriate programmes for tending young-growth stands, and caution when thinning at a late stage and during selection cutting. Existing tools for stand management should be adapted to incorporate climate change considerations, and steps must be taken to ensure that the existing legislation takes forest hygiene properly into account.

Higher temperatures and a longer growing season will increase the production capacity of forests. It will be important for the forestry industry to make use of the opportunities this offers through forest plant breeding, promoting regeneration and forest management. Such opportunities should also be considered in forestry planning and in economic calculations where forests are classified according to site quality.

Climate change may also have indirect consequences for forest health. There is particular concern about the possible establishment of forest pests or diseases whose natural distribution is in milder climates outside Norway. New diseases affecting ash and elm trees in Norway are examples of the spread of climate-related diseases.

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety, which carries out independent risk assessments relating to plant health, has detected traces of plant pests that could have very serious impacts in the form of forest disease or death if they become established in Norway.

The risk has increased considerably in recent years with the growing trade in timber and timber products. Some pests would be capable of establishing themselves in Norway in the current climate, but damage will only become apparent at higher temperatures. More knowledge of how to control forest pests that already occur naturally in Norway is also needed, since they are expected to become more widespread in a warmer climate.

In addition to developing contingency strategies and plans, it may therefore be necessary to strengthen monitoring programmes and certain preventive measures, for example for forest near Norway’s main import nodes, as mentioned in the 2011 white paper on agricultural, forestry and food policy.

Norway’s regulations on forest tree seed and plant material date from 1996. They are to be revised in keeping with new knowledge and new legislation, for example the new regulations on foreign tree species for forestry purposes. These new regulations must be implemented in a way that takes both biodiversity considerations and adaptation of Norwegian forests to climate change into account. Rules on plant quality and on the import and export of genetic material must also be improved when the regulations are revised.

Climate change adaptation is being considered in connection with an ongoing revision of standards for forest and farm roads. Guidelines have been issued on the risk of soil slides when forest roads are built in steep terrain, and how they can be prevented by using appropriate construction techniques and suitable design and specifications for ditches, culverts and drains. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has begun revision of the legislation on planning and constructing forestry and farm roads, and will consider these in the context of relevant provisions in the Planning and Building Act and the Nature Diversity Act. The legislation is intended to promote good overall solutions that ensure the necessary infrastructure for the forestry industry and at the same time take into account safety, important environmental considerations and the risk of flooding, landslides and avalanches.

Access to forest resources is essential not only for forestry operations, but also in connection with forest fires and forest hygiene measures, such as the removal of damaged trees that could provide suitable breeding sites for various insect pests. Both the forest road network and the public roads system are of crucial importance for clean-up operations and the removal of timber after large-scale forest damage. When damage has occurred, effective application processes are needed. Coordination between the ministries involved and the public roads authorities must be improved so that clean-up operations can rapidly be initiated.

There have been a number of major forest fires (for example in Froland in Aust-Agder in 2008) and storms that have caused damage (for example «Dagmar» in 2011) in Norwegian forests in recent years, which have been challenging to deal with. Better coordination is needed between the public and private sectors in contingency plans for the forestry sector, so that all parties involved can work together efficiently during emergencies. In 2008, a government-appointed working group delivered a report on emergency preparedness and response to forest fires in Norway, and its conclusions need to be followed up further. For example, the report pointed out the importance of deploying resources fully at an early stage to prevent small forest fires from developing into large-scale incidents that are difficult to deal with and involve several sectors (such as the Froland forest fire).

Responsibility for cover against natural hazard damage, including damage directly caused by events such as landslides, avalanches, storms and flooding, is shared between the Norwegian Natural Disaster Fund and private insurance companies. About 50 % of the total area of forest in Norway is not covered by private insurance arrangements and is therefore not eligible for compensation from the Fund. In view of the climate change projected for Norway, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food will look more closely at how it would be possible to provide protection against financial losses resulting from climate-related damage for a larger proportion of Norwegian forests. Information on forest owners’ own responsibility for preventive measures and for obtaining insurance against storm damage and the like must be improved.

Forest that provides protection against natural hazards such as landslides, avalanches, windthrow and flooding is managed in accordance with Norwegian forestry law. The same applies to forest that protects other areas of forest, farmland or built-up areas. The county departments of agriculture are responsible for mapping theses areas, and the municipal councils determine their boundaries, which are also shown in municipal master plans. Owners are required to provide notification before any logging in such areas, and the county governors can issue guidelines for logging in protective forests. Protective forests can provide important ecosystem services in connection with climate change adaptation.

Knowledge production

Climate change will influence biological production systems, including agriculture and forestry. These sectors are therefore vulnerable both to gradual climate change and to extreme weather events. Research and development projects, monitoring programmes, international cooperation and dissemination activities are designed to identify the impacts climate change will have on agriculture and forestry in Norway and how different production types in different parts of the country best can be adapted. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is giving priority to funding four research areas:

1. Innovation and competitiveness in the agricultural, forestry and food sector

Climate change will make it more difficult for the global food system to provide enough food to meet growing demand. However, in northern latitudes the growing season is expected to become longer, making it possible to increase yields and grow new types of crops. To make use of these opportunities, more knowledge will be needed about:

  • plant material (new varieties and adaptation of existing varieties by means of breeding programmes);

  • farming techniques (e.g. more use of grazing resources);

  • cultivation techniques (potentially longer growing season, frost damage, water issues);

  • social and economic impacts of changes in the crops and livestock produced and in the areas used on production and food quality (e.g. preventing any increase in fungal infection pressure from resulting in the presence of toxins in food and animal feedstuffs).

Biotechnology makes use of natural biological processes and offers unique opportunities for environmentally sound, climate-friendly innovation. According to the report The Bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda, published by the OECD in 2009, agricultural and industrial applications of biotechnology are expected to show the greatest growth up to 2010. The report estimates that in 2030, 36 % of all applications of biotechnology will be in the agricultural sector, often based on new research findings.

Textbox 8.3 Programmes, infrastructure and institutes

There are five agricultural research institutes in Norway: Bioforsk (the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research), the Centre for Rural Research, the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, the Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute and the Norwegian Veterinary Institute). They have a substantial research and development portfolio in agriculture, forestry, food and feedstuff production. This must be maintained and further developed. Since there is a great deal of uncertainty about climate change, broad-based research is needed on how agriculture will be able to respond to different climate change scenarios.

The Research Council of Norway has issued several calls for proposals related to climate change adaptation in agriculture as part of the research programme BIONÆR (on sustainable innovation in food and bio-based industries) and the NORKLIMA climate research programme. Many of the issues discussed in the section above are included in the plans for the BIOKLIMA project, which aims to develop a national infrastructure for studying climate effects in natural and agro-ecosystems. A pre-project has started up to look at the feasibility of developing a research infrastructure offering a climate-controlled facility for experimental studies of soil, water, plants and greenhouse gases, and where it is also possible to study the effects of frost. Norway is also playing an active part in international programme cooperation related to climate change adaptation in agriculture and forestry.

2. Sustainable production of sufficient quantities of safe food

A warmer climate will allow pests and diseases to become established and spread to new areas. In future, threats to animal, plant and human health and to biodiversity may to a considerable degree come from as yet unknown diseases and pests (weeds, insects, bacteria, viruses, fungi, nematodes). This will require more knowledge in various fields, including the following:

  • diagnosis, prevention, treatment, pathogenic agents and control of infection;

  • zoonoses (diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans);

  • breeding of more resistant plant varieties;

  • environmental impacts of pesticides, and alternatives to chemical pesticides;

  • adaptation of farming and cultivation techniques;

  • impacts of climate change on grazing resources and on reindeer parasites/diseases.

3. Emissions reductions, adaptation and renewable energy

Norway’s forestry policy promotes wider use of timber in a variety of products and for energy purposes, and active utilisation of forests for commercial purposes and for climate change adaptation and mitigation. More knowledge is needed about:

  • interactions between precipitation, soils and technology, and conservation of genetic diversity to develop more resilient forest production systems;

  • choice of tree species, management, and links between forest management and the risk of damage;

  • monitoring and development of preventive measures against alien pest organisms;

  • existing forestry monitoring and mapping programmes, which need to be reviewed to clarify whether any changes are needed in connection with climate change adaptation.

4. Knowledge development for the public administration

The public administration makes use of a variety of policy instruments to ensure that the agricultural, forestry and food sector can fulfil its functions, and needs more knowledge about the following:

  • the role of agricultural areas in climate change adaptation and in preventing damage in other sectors, for example from flooding, fire and landslides/avalanches;

  • the responsibility of the agricultural and forestry sector for water pollution as a result of runoff and loss of nutrients to river systems.

International research cooperation

There has been a great deal of instability in the wider world around Norway in recent years, triggered by the food crisis and financial crisis, and not least by the impacts of weather and climate change. Import protection and higher prices for key foods mean that Norway is currently to some extent shielded from price fluctuations on the world market resulting from these crises, but it is not unaffected. Agricultural and food policy is being developed in a way that takes such factors into consideration.

Climate-related research should therefore investigate these complex relationships through a cross-sectoral approach and cooperation. Norway should take part in international cooperation in order to resolve shared challenges, expand the scope of research, revitalise Norwegian research and be able to understand and make use of research results from other countries.

8.3 Fisheries and aquaculture

The projected impacts of changes in water temperature, higher water levels and wilder weather will require adaptations in all areas of responsibility under the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs. Adequate information about the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine ecosystems is needed so that fisheries and coastal management can be adapted to new conditions. Chapter 8.5 on infrastructure discusses assessments by the transport agencies of the risks associated with the consequences of climate change, for example extreme weather events and storm surges.

Textbox 8.4 Hav21

The HAV21 strategy committee was established by the Government in autumn 2011 with a mandate to draw up a proposal for an integrated marine research strategy to ensure effective and targeted use of marine research resources. The committee presented its report, An R&D strategy for a marine nation of substance, on 7 November 2012.

In the strategy, the committee identifies research and knowledge needs that must be met in order to develop the marine sector in accordance with the Government’s vision that Norway should be the world’s leading seafood nation, maintain clean, rich seas for future generations, and maintain an integrated, ecosystem-based marine management regime. The report also concludes that it is prudent for Norway to continue investing in the marine sector, which is a sector in which it excels.

The kind of knowledge needed in the marine sector has become increasingly complicated. More and more, complex, interdisciplinary research and development is required. The committee recommended the use of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral projects involving science and technology, social sciences and the humanities, drawing on Norway’s extensive knowledge base in the offshore and maritime sectors.

The strategy notes that Norway takes a broad-based approach to marine research and development, which should be continued. This is the point of departure for the strategy committee’s recommended priorities: social and legal perspectives, management and use; knowledge of ecosystems; the Arctic and northern areas; harvesting and cultivating new marine raw materials; fish health and sustainable, safe and healthy seafood; food and markets; and technology. These priorities have not been ranked.

A concerted research effort has been launched to learn more about the role of the oceans in the climate system and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems and resources. Projects have shown that a range of climate factors will have effects on marine organisms at both individual and population level. Climate change will entail management challenges for the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.

The Ministry has drawn up a climate change strategy for its own areas of responsibility. Its goal is to put the fisheries and coastal administration in the best possible position to meet challenges related to climate change, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. One important measure for adaptation measure is the continuation of important monitoring series. Following developments in factors such as temperature, acidification, populations, fish health and food safety closely gives a good basis for taking the necessary action. The Institute of Marine Research is responsible for most climate-related monitoring in the marine environment. Rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere lead to higher CO2 uptake in seawater. The Institute of Marine Research started monitoring of ocean acidification in 2010. A number of projects have been started to investigate the impacts of acidification on species at different levels in food chains, such as the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, lobster, mackerel, cod and scallops. The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research is responsible for research and development on environmentally sound feed for farmed fish and on seafood safety and quality.

As regards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs has taken the initiative for the development of a Norwegian standard for calculating the carbon footprint of seafood under the auspices of Standards Norway. The work is expected to be completed in spring 2013.

8.4 Health

Many types of health risks are influenced by climate change. Climate change may result in a negative trend in drinking water quality. Food- and water-borne infections are among the commonest infections in the world and are sensitive to climate change. Climate change can entail a higher risk of vector-borne diseases carried by organisms such as mosquitoes, ticks and snails. The climate-related natural hazards that are responsible for the greatest number of deaths in Norway are storms, flooding, landslides and avalanches. Climate-related accidents and diseases are a general risk factor in Norway, but climate change is not expected to cause any large changes in mortality. Norway is a safe country, and public health is generally good. This means that we have a sound basis for dealing with the challenges of climate change.

Confidence that life and health will always be safeguarded is a fundamental value of our society, and contributes to a high quality of life. This means that measures are taken to prevent disease and injury and to ensure adequate medical care and emergency services. In the event of an incident involving a risk to life and health, substantial resources are mobilised, and priority is given to ensuring that every inhabitant feels safe, regardless of the geographical region in which they live. All sectors and enterprises have a duty to safeguard life and health within their respective spheres of responsibility.

The Norwegian health services are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Care Services. The ministry administers the health sector by means of legislation and annual budget allocations and through government agencies and enterprises. The ministry is also responsible for treatment, research and monitoring activities in the sector. Sound organisation and a clear division of responsibility are essential, and these factors will also be fundamental in addressing the challenges associated with climate change.

Individual food producers and water works are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe to eat and drink. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is the supervisory authority for the legislation governing food and drink. The health authorities have a number of procedures for monitoring the health of the population, including the occurrence of diseases associated with climate change. For example, physicians have a duty to report every case of more than 50 communicable diseases by means of a dedicated reporting system operated by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The Directorate of Health is responsible for defining critical vulnerabilities, taking appropriate adaptation action, and identifying challenges to the health sector. The Institute of Public Health is responsible for assessing the health impacts of changes that may occur in Norway, for example in temperature, water quality and the prevalence of vectors.

Climate change and drinking water supplies

The importance of drinking water as a source of water- and food-borne infections is probably greater in Norway than in other developed countries, partly because such a large proportion of drinking water is surface water.

Sections 5 and 9 of the Norwegian Public Health Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2012, provide the authority to require new measures to be planned, initiated and implemented so that climate change considerations are more fully incorporated into relevant decision-making processes. The precautionary principle is one of the fundamental principles underlying the Act and should therefore underlie municipal risk and vulnerability assessments and emergency preparedness plans (see section 28 of the Act), which should take into account the potential impacts of climate-related hazards.

It is relatively straightforward to take steps to improve raw water quality and prevent contamination of water treatment plants, and to intensify monitoring of water quality. The most vulnerable treatment plants are also relatively easy to identify. However, it is more difficult to predict where there is a risk of waste water seeping into the drinking water supply, because there is insufficient information about the state of the pipeline network. It is also more difficult and more costly to prevent contamination of the pipeline network by waste water, making these types of adaptation measures more difficult.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has pointed out the need to maintain and upgrade drinking water supply systems. The responsibility for ensuring that drinking supplies are safe lies with the municipalities and other owners of water supply systems.

In 2012 the Norwegian Food Safety Authority conducted a national inspection campaign focusing on the distribution system for drinking water. Drinking water was also one of the elements of an emergency preparedness exercise conducted in 2012 in the counties of Buskerud, Vestfold and Telemark, in which drinking water was used to train cooperation with county governors and between municipal medical officers. The exercise revealed a need to discuss and clarify roles and responsibilities with the county governors’ offices.

A working group of the relevant ministries and government agencies has been appointed to consider potential problems related to drinking water and the distribution network.


The Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the National Veterinary Institute run the project, which registers data on the distribution of sheep ticks (Ixodes ricinus) and deer keds (Lipoptena cervi) based on information reported by hunters. Data are registered for each hunting season, and it is planned to continue the project in the years ahead. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has collected sheep ticks within and outside the known area of distribution of the virus disease tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and analysed them for TBE. This is the vector-borne disease that is most likely to become more common as a result of future climate change.

International cooperation

Norway takes an active part in the work in the environment and health field under the auspices of the World Health Organization. This includes implementation of the Protocol on Water and Health, where Norway is chair of the Bureau of the Protocol on Water and Health for the period 2011–13. The protocol provides guidance on addressing the impacts of climate change on drinking water.

Norway is a party to the Parma Declaration on Environment and Health, which was adopted at the WHO Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in 2010, and is promoting its implementation. The declaration identifies the key environment and health challenges in Europe and presents ways to address them, politically, technically and through participation by involved groups. Protecting children’s health and protecting health and the environment from climate change are two of the commitments undertaken by the parties.

Norway participates in several European expert networks, including meetings on environment and health and ECDC/VBORNET, a network on vector surveillance.

8.5 Buildings and other infrastructure


Norway’s transport systems are vulnerable to climate change. Higher precipitation and more intense precipitation events are expected to create problems for roads and railways in particular, in the form of greater wear and tear, more damage and traffic disruption. Maritime and air transport will also be vulnerable to more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, storm surges and generally more difficult climatic conditions.

Society is dependent on a well-functioning transport system, and traffic disruption can easily have major consequences. The goal of the Government’s transport policy is to provide an efficient, safe and environmentally sound transport system that meets society’s needs and promotes regional development.

Climatic conditions and extreme events frequently cause disruption of the transport system and pose considerable risks to the sector even in today’s climate. The transport authorities therefore attach great importance to including climatic factors and climate change projections in their planning processes. For many years the manuals, guidelines and standards for the maintenance of existing infrastructure and the construction of new infrastructure published by the various transport agencies have been revised as more knowledge of climate change becomes available.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for the transport sector, and lays down the overall framework for policy development for the various transport sectors. This does not apply, however, to maritime transport, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs. The national transport plan, which is a 10-year rolling plan that serves as a platform for development of the sector as a whole, is the most important strategic document. The guidelines for the various transport authorities drawn up in connection with the preparation of the 2014–23 National Transport Plan state that the proposed plans and priorities must take into consideration today’s climate and projected climate change.

In 2007 the Ministry of Transport and Communications presented a risk and vulnerability assessment for the transport system from a cross-sectoral perspective (SAMROS I). The results of a follow-up project, SAMROS II, will be presented in the first half of 2013, and will provide an updated overview together with the most recent knowledge concerning the risks facing the transport sector. The projects have identified critical assets in the transport and ICT sectors, such as stretches of road or rail, terminals and control centres, the disruption of which would have particularly serious implications for the transport and communications system. Specific measures have been proposed for protecting these assets, together with emergency plans in the event of disruption. The goal is to ensure that critical assets in these sectors are sufficiently resilient to different types of stress, including extreme weather events and climate change. In the field of maritime transport, risk and vulnerability assessments are being conducted for exposed fairways and navigation infrastructure. The Norwegian Coastal Administration will consider the need to install more buoys to measure wind speed, currents and wave height, and will publish the resulting data.

Surveys and research are a key part of adaptation work by the Norwegian transport authorities. In close cooperation with the National Rail Administration, the Public Roads Administration has conducted an R&D project called «Climate and transport», which proposed measures in four areas: new transport infrastructure, existing road and railway networks, emergency preparedness and development of a knowledge base for climate change adaptation. The project has provided substantial information on the impacts of climate change and on how the transport sectors can take account of climate and climate change considerations. Coordination, exchange of experience and cooperation with other agencies will enable the transport authorities to carry out more effective safety measures and develop better preparedness systems against extreme weather events. The National Rail Administration has developed a system of preparedness levels and early warning procedures for extreme weather events and flooding, and the Public Roads Administration is doing the same. The transport authorities cooperate closely with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, among other things on a national warning system for landslides and avalanches. However, further knowledge-building is still needed.

The Public Roads Administration, the National Rail Administration and the Water Resources and Energy Directorate have started an R&D project, «Natural hazards – infrastructure, flooding, landslides and avalanches», that is partly based on the «Climate and transport» project. The aim is to make infrastructure more resilient and improve coordination when natural hazard events occur. The project focuses on areas where closer cooperation between the various agencies is essential for improving preparedness, risk management and management of extreme events, particularly in relation to landslides, avalanches and flooding. The project includes risk and vulnerability assessments, stormwater management, mapping, early warning and safety measures in connection with landslides, avalanches and flooding, and quick clay. The project was launched in 2012 and will last for four years.

Avinor has made substantial efforts to assess the probable impacts of climate change on airports in Norway. A major project is being started in 2013 to provide a more systematic overview of vulnerability to climate change.

The new knowledge that is being generated is used to develop specific measures. The transport authorities ensure that the new knowledge and lessons learned from ongoing projects are systematised and disseminated to all administrative levels in the transport sector. Thus the Norwegian Public Roads Administration has made changes in its rules and manuals as a result of the «Climate and transport» project. Other developments include stricter requirements for including climate considerations in road and railway planning and in risk and vulnerability assessments, stricter requirements for the choice of design values for flooding and runoff, measures to increase drainage capacity, and new guidelines for landslide and avalanche risk management and safety measures. In addition to amendments to the legislation, proposals are being discussed for adaptation measures in connection with management of the road network. In 2013 the Norwegian Coastal Administration is to revise its guidelines for breakwaters to include climate change considerations.

It is especially important to ensure that there are adequate rules and sufficient expertise and capacity at municipal level to ensure that the consequences of climate change are taken properly into account in connection with local road building. The changes in the rules set out in the manuals of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration are applicable to all administrative levels. Higher precipitation and more intense precipitation events often have even more severe impacts on municipal roads than elsewhere. This is because there are often larger areas of impermeable surfaces, they are affected by streams with a short response time, and in some places the infrastructure is poorly maintained, making it difficult to drain away stormwater effectively.

The road and railway maintenance backlog is increasing the vulnerability of this infrastructure to climate change, and reducing the backlog will be an essential step in adaptation.


The building sector is large, complex and fragmented. Buildings are vital to everyone’s lives, and the sector includes the construction industry, a major industry with a strong influence on other sectors. The Government’s overall goal is for buildings in Norway to be well designed, safe, energy efficient and healthy.

The impacts of climate change in Norway will have major implications for the requirements that will have to be set for siting buildings and for building technology to take account of the higher risk of landslides, avalanches and flooding, larger volumes of stormwater and rising sea levels.

The building sector is the responsibility of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, which establishes the overall framework for legislation, budget funding, research, organisation and information. The Norwegian Building Authority plays a central role in administering and developing the technical building requirements, ensuring that up-to-date knowledge is available and providing guidelines and information. The building sector is made up of many different actors with important roles in building policy, including the construction industry, owners of public and private buildings, county governors, counties, municipalities and a number of government agencies.

The sector has given high priority to improving knowledge about the impacts of climate change on buildings. Knowledge-building is an essential part of the first phase of adaptation. SINTEF Building and Infrastructure was commissioned by the Norwegian Building Authority to conduct a risk and vulnerability assessment for a number of climate parameters. The assessment provides an overview by county, and is intended to provide a better foundation for deciding on appropriate measures. On the basis of the assessment, SINTEF Building and Infrastructure has proposed a number of measures for reducing the vulnerability of the construction industry to climate change and increasing its adaptive capacity. With regard to the risk of decay in the event of a more humid climate, R&D is being conducted under the auspices of the Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology and the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute to find ways of improving protection of wooden structures against moisture. These involve appropriate structural design, development of new, environmentally friendly impregnation agents, preservatives that can be brushed or spread on the wood surface, use of the correct type and quality of wood, and new protection methods such as the use of electrodes. Many of the projects have been supported by the innovation programme for wooden materials under Innovation Norway.

The Planning and Building Act and the technical regulations under the Act are key instruments for the planning and building authorities in preventing the harmful effects of climate change. Clear, up-to-date and effective legislation provides guidelines for adaptation efforts in the construction industry. This is emphasised in a white paper from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development on building policy (Gode bygg for eit betre samfunn, Meld. St. 28 (2011–2012), in Norwegian only). The white paper highlights the importance of focusing on climate change and the need for adaptation to future climate change when building today.

According to the white paper, the need to amend legislation in the light of new knowledge about the impacts of climate change will be considered. This applies particularly to amendments to the regulations on technical requirements for buildings. The white paper also states that the Government will promote competence-building in the municipalities and the development of a better factual basis on climate change adaptation and climate risks. The introduction of new tools and methods to make it easier for municipalities to take climate change into account will be considered. For example, tools that ensure good moisture management will be considered to ensure that this is taken seriously throughout building processes.

The white paper also states that the Government will consider the development of local climate indexes and climate zones to clarify which requirements should apply to buildings and in municipal land-use planning. Geographically differentiated climate data and indexes have not previously been available, making it difficult to assess the suitability of particular technical solutions for a particular type of climate. Climate indexes can be an important tool for developing adaptation measures.

The power supply system

The power supply system is a critical infrastructure, since the normal functioning of society depends on a secure and stable power supply. Major disruption of the power supply would have significant economic consequences and pose a threat to life and health. Some of the factors that already constitute risks to the power supply may become more pronounced in future as the climate changes. This could increase the need for maintenance and the risk of damage and power cuts. On the other hand, more precipitation may increase the potential for electricity production.

Over 300 public and private enterprises, organised in different ways, are concerned with the generation, transmission and sale of electricity. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is responsible for energy supplies, and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate administers the electricity resources and the power supply system on behalf of the ministry. The directorate determines the framework for the production, sale, transmission and use of energy, and is responsible for the power supply system, quality of supply, security and emergency preparedness in the sector. The directorate is also responsible for licensing procedures for hydropower developments in rivers systems, electricity production and power lines. The Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning has been given the responsibility for electricity safety by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, and is also responsible for monitoring emergency planning by other authorities. The two directorates have a wide range of tools for ensuring security of electricity supply in Norway that also take into account the higher level of risk associated with future climate change.

The Water Resources and Energy Directorate is responsible for assessing the impacts of climate change within its sphere of responsibility and for ensuring that the necessary adaptation measures are taken. There is a need for continual adaptation to avoid incidents that could entail a risk of loss of human life or material damage or disrupt critical infrastructure and societal functions. Adaptation efforts should focus on adequate security of supply and emergency preparedness in the power supply sector and seek to prevent damage from natural hazard events such as flooding, landslides and avalanches.

Textbox 8.5 The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate and climate change

In order to maintain security of supply, the electricity sector needs to adapt to climate change. The Water Resources and Energy Directorate is following this up through licensing procedures and a greater emphasis on inspection and enforcement. In 2009 and 2012 the directorate conducted surveys of the level of awareness of climate change and adaptation activities in the sector. It has also produced a report on climate-related challenges in the sector up to 2100 (Klimautfordringer i kraftsektoren frem mot 2100, in Norwegian only).

The Water Resources and Energy Directorate is responsible for ensuring that dams and other installations do not represent a risk of damage or injury to people, the environment or property (third parties). The main elements of this work are control and approval of technical plans and of periodic safety inspections, control of the construction of installations and inspection and auditing of existing facilities and their owners.

The licensing requirements for actors in this sector are an important tool for the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, and are mentioned as a particular strength in connection with adaptation work in the power sector in the report Adapting to a changing climate (NOU 2010: 10). The licensing system is based on the provisions of the Energy Act, the Water Resources Act, the Watercourse Regulation Act and the Industrial Licensing Act. An enterprise will only be granted a licence in the power supply sector if it meets the safety requirements for the construction, commissioning and operation of the installation or facilities in question. For example, the Energy Act grants wide powers to attach conditions to licences as long as there is an objective link between the conditions and the activity subject to licensing. In the case of hydropower installations, licences may include requirements for measures to reduce the risk of damage from flooding, erosion, sea level rise and so on. The guidelines for flood calculations contain recommendations for assessing the impacts of climate change.7 The Water Resources and Energy Directorate gives priority to ensuring that the guidelines are followed in the plans for new dams and the control of existing ones.

The regulations relating to dam safety cover all dams that represent a risk of damage to third parties and require safety reviews of all dams at intervals of 15–20 years. One of the purposes is to identify changes in the loads to which the dam is subject, such as changes in flood volumes, wind, waves and ice loads, both under existing conditions and in the context of future climate change. In 2012 the Water Resources and Energy Directorate conducted a survey of the hydropower sector’s awareness of climate change.

Monitoring and inspection of dams under normal operating conditions and in emergencies should be adapted to the probable effects of climate change, such as more frequent flooding in winter, and plans for the necessary maintenance and upgrading should be adapted to changes in runoff patterns. The dam safety regulations include requirements for preparedness and emergency planning by dam owners for situations that could represent a risk of damage. Emergency plans must be based on risk and vulnerability assessments, be kept up to date and revised at least every third year, and reflect any increase in risk as a result of climate change.

The Water Resources and Energy Directorate’s licensing procedures are required to take security of supply into account. Improving security of supply is often given as a reason for applications for licences for reinvestment and upgrading. Much of the power grid in Norway was constructed during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and given the normal lifetime of such installations, large-scale reinvestment and upgrading will be needed in the years ahead. Adaptation will be a key element of this work, and power lines must be designed to withstand the projected loads in different types of extreme weather. Safe operation and maintenance under all weather conditions is another vital consideration. Routeing of power lines is important, since appropriate choices can reduce climate-related risks and facilitate control and maintenance. The directorate expects all transmission system operators to place sufficient weight on risk and vulnerability assessmentsin their planning.

More knowledge is needed about how much the climate is expected to change before appropriate requirements can be set during licensing procedures and in other contexts. The Water Resources and Energy Directorate already imposes strict requirements for impact assessments, but will focus more on climate change in connection with licensing procedures, impact assessments and power system studies. R&D on the challenges associated with climate change is being conducted under the auspices of the directorate, including studies of the hydrological impacts, climate-related challenges in the power sector, changes in the frequency of lightning, the significance of changes in sea level and storm surges, the frequency of storms and the effects of hurricane-force winds, icing on power lines, ice loads on dams and the effects of slide-generated waves on dams.

The legislation administered by the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning include safety requirements for electricity infrastructure, which in practice mean that installations must be designed to withstand future climatic conditions.

Textbox 8.6 Excerpt from the 2010 climate change adaptation strategy of the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate

The changing climate makes it necessary to adapt continuously in order to prevent adverse environmental impacts that may entail a threat to human life and damage critical infrastructure and societal functions. Adaptation includes both physical measures and steps to acquire sufficient knowledge about climate change to make effective decisions. The speed of climate change and its impacts will vary between the different parts of the country. Moreover, the Water Resources and Energy Directorate makes decisions with very different time horizons. The climate change adaptation strategy has to reflect these factors in order to enable the directorate to do the right things at the right times. This means that the strategy must be dynamic and be continuously updated as new knowledge becomes available.

A dynamic climate change strategy should be based on the following principles:

  • Measures and decisions with a short lifetime should be assessed on the basis of today’s climate.

  • Measures and decisions with a long lifetime should be assessed to determine whether they should be designed to withstand the climate change projected to occur within their lifetime or on the basis of today’s climate but in such a way that necessary adaptations can be retrofitted.

  • Measures and decisions should be resilient to climate change, in other words they should function as intended even if actual climate change is rather different from projected climate change.

  • Adaptation measures that also contribute to results in other areas (such as nature conservation, flood protection, or security of supply) represent a win-win situation and should be given high priority.

  • Adaptation measures that are cost-effective and will function equally well or better if the climate changes as projected should be given high priority.

  • Costly adaptation measures whose effects will be reduced by projected climate change should have low priority.

The Water Resources and Energy Directorate must pay special attention to areas of responsibility where climate change is expected to have particularly serious impacts. This may involve amending regulations or clarifying requirements, such as requirements for maintenance, modernisation, emergency preparedness in the power supply sector and dam safety. It may also include support for flood protection and protection against landslides and avalanches, and steps to ensure sound land use planning that reduces risks.

Source Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate

8.6 The business sector

Climate change will have impacts on the Norwegian business sector. Because the sector is so varied, there will also be wide variations in how climate change affects earning power and profitability. The sector also has a vital role to play in Norway’s transition to a low-emission economy and through the introduction of production methods and equipment that are adapted to a changed climate. In addition, the sector supplies products and services that will play a large part in determining Norwegian society’s resilience to climate change.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is responsible for drawing up a future-oriented business policy for all policy areas of importance for value creation. A knowledge-based business sector is necessary to maximise value creation, and this needs to be further developed. The allocations to Innovation Norway, SIVA (the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway) and the Research Council of Norway are among the largest administered by the ministry. One of the areas that the ministry emphasises in its dialogue with Innovation Norway is environment and energy, and Innovation Norway is extensively involved in environmentally relevant networking activities.

Climate change could alter much of the basic framework for parts of the Norwegian business sector. For the primary industries and other industries that are closely linked to the natural resource base, it could necessitate considerable restructuring. Restructuring will also be necessary if climate change imposes new requirements with respect to siting or development. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration has already changed the manuals setting out conditions for road construction, and contractors will have to follow the new rules. The technical regulations for buildings may have to be amended to address the higher risk of water damage and decay, imposing fresh requirements on the industry. Climate change could also make restructuring necessary for local businesses. This applies particularly to outdoor industries, which could be forced to replace their existing activities with new ones. This requires considerable expertise and innovative capacity, and may be a challenging task in small communities with a poorly diversified economy.

Climate change intensifies the need for knowledge-based business development, and restructuring that takes climate change into account will require research and innovation. Since the business sector has an important role to play in adaptation, it is important to promote its involvement in public-sector research and innovation efforts. One way of encouraging businesses to engage in innovation and knowledge development is through intellectual property rights such as patents. Climate-resilient business development will also require new types of knowledge. For example, if new, climate-resilient activities are being planned as part of a local restructuring process, information tailored to local needs about how climate change will affect that particular geographical area will be valuable. If sectors that supply for example infrastructure services are to do so sustainably, they will need reliable data on factors such as precipitation patterns and sea level rise.

While the authorities have an important responsibility for providing information tailored to different needs and a suitable overall framework, companies themselves must also take responsibility for climate-resilient development of their own activities. A good dialogue between businesses and the authorities is essential. In Norway dialogue between these two parties is already well established, and it is important to ensure that it also encompasses climate change. It is also important to adopt a precautionary approach to new business opportunities created by climate change, especially in North Norway.

On 16 December 2011, Norway adopted the Act relating to supply chain preparedness, which emphasises the need for cooperation between the public authorities and the business sector in the field of civil protection and emergency planning. This legislation also applies to problems that may arise as a result of climate change. Issues related to climate change have therefore been raised in the ongoing emergency planning cooperation between the public authorities and the business sector. There are several emergency response organisations under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Council for Emergency Preparedness in the Construction Sector in particular has devoted considerable attention to this topic.

Cooperation between the authorities and the business sector is also important for community and local business development. Regional planning is an example of current cooperation in this context. Adaptation needs to be made an integral part of the relevant dialogue between the local and regional authorities and the business sector.

The business sector itself also has an independent responsibility to integrate climate change adaptation into its activities. For example decisions are constantly being made on long-term investments, such as the siting and design of commercial buildings. The business sector also has a wider social mission that requires climate change to be taken into account. This includes a wide range of businesses, for example the construction industry, contractors and consultants supplying services for general municipal planning. Although it is the authorities that determine the framework conditions, businesses must also take responsibility for sustainability through their own activities and operations. This means that businesses must be able meet the adaptation requirements imposed by the authorities on the one hand, and on the other take an active approach by ensuring that their investments are climate-resilient. Thus the impacts of climate change on society’s infrastructure in the broadest sense will also have consequences for the business sector. The individual company must consider how disruption, for example of the transport system, will affect its activities and as far as possible take the necessary measures to limit the consequences.

The report Adapting to a changing climate (NOU 2010: 10) points out how important it is for industries themselves to ensure competence-building and training to meet changes in requirements in different areas. Knowledge-building will also be necessary for some branches, for example consultancy firms that often advise municipalities on planning and will need expertise if they are to assist municipalities to include climate change adaptation in planning processes.

The travel and tourism industry is one of those that will be strongly affected by climate change. Considerable restructuring will be necessary to take advantage of changed conditions and avoid negative effects of climate change as far as possible. Successful adaptation in this sector will depend on better assessments of how climate change will affect global travel patterns, since this is a global industry and the Norwegian tourism market may be affected by climate change in other parts of the world. In spite of the predictions of higher precipitation, shorter duration of snow cover, melting of glaciers and more rapid spread of forest and woodland in mountainous areas and cultural landscapes, Norway’s geographical location is still likely to make it an exotic and attractive tourist destination. Furthermore, drier summers in southern Norway may make this region more attractive to summer tourists.

Climate change may also lead to considerable changes in national travel patterns, particularly in winter, when the direction of traffic flows will be strongly influenced by access to stable snow conditions. Such changes will have considerable effects on tourism. In order for the sector to be able to plan for sustainable adaptation, capacity needs assessments will have to be made for all parts of the tourist industry.

Textbox 8.7 Sustainable Destination Norway 2025

Sustainable Destination Norway was one of three research projects funded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Research Council of Norway in the period 2008–11 with the aim of strengthening the knowledge base for policy development for a more sustainable tourism industry in Norway. Vestlandsforsking was the main research institute involved. Sustainable Destination Norway developed a computer model to run scenarios based on research in three areas:

  • dialogue processes to develop sustainable tourism,

  • the links between climate policy, climate change and tourism,

  • the links between climate-friendly food and sustainable tourism.

Modelling showed that, all in all, an ambitious climate policy can be combined with rising profitability in the tourism industry and an increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting Norway. An important point made in the final report was that under all the different global socioeconomic development and climate policy scenarios that were used, both profitability and the number of international tourist arrivals will double. However, the report pointed out that stronger policy measures will be needed to reach the goal of a more sustainable tourism industry.



Convention on Biological Diversity, COP10, Decision X/33


Framstad et. al. Naturfaglig evaluering av norske verneområder. Verneområdenes funksjon som økologisk nettverk og toleranse for klimaendringer (Assessment of Norwegian conservation areas. Their functions as ecological networks and tolerance to climate change. Summary in English) NINA report 888, 2012


IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007 – Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, Chapter 4.6


Rusch, G. M. (2012): Climate and ecosystem services. The potential of Norwegian ecosystems for climate mitigation and adaptation. – NINA Report 791.


Corrected from six in the original Norwegian text.


Corrected from ‘the past 50 years’ in the original Norwegian text.


Retningslinjer for flomberegninger (Guidelines for flood assessment, in Norwegian), NVE 2011.

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