The mean temperature in Norway is increasing
In recent years, the mean temperature in Norway has generally been higher than normal. The exception was 2010, which was one of the coldest year since 1900. The highest temperatures were recorded in 1934, 1990 2006 and 2011, with 1.8 °C above average.
In the Arctic areas of Norway the deviations are larger. At Svalbard Airport on Spitsbergen the mean temperature was 2.3°C above average in 2003 and 2004. In 2005 the mean temperature was 3.6°C above normal. The highest mean temperature ever registered on Svalbard was in 2006, when the mean temperature was 5°C above average. In 2009 the mean temperature was 2.9°C above the average.
Higher temperatures lead to less snow and ice. The extent of the Arctic sea ice during the summer has been reduced by around 35 per cent since 1979.
The annual mean temperature is expected to increase by as much as 2.3-4.6°C by 2100. Temperatures will increase most in winter. Precipitation levels will increase throughout the country, especially in winter.
Summer precipitation in eastern and southern Norway is likely to decrease towards the end of the century.
We can already see effects on the Norwegian natural climate
Many changes, caused by climate change, have already been observed in the Norwegian natural environment, and major changes are expected to occur in types of habitat and species composition. Traditional recreational opportunities, such as skiing, may disappear in some areas.
The effects of climate change on Norway’s natural environment cannot be considered in isolation from other factors. Climate change comes in addition to the destruction of habitat, the spreading of alien species, pollution and overuse of natural resources. In some instances, climate change can reinforce the negative consequences of other pressures.
As the climate warms up, several species shift northwards, and new species will therefore reach Norway. Both indigenous species and ecosystems may be negatively affected, especially those that are already vulnerable and threatened.
Large parts of the mountains will develop forest cover in the long run, and the growing season will be considerably longer. For many parts of the country, the season is expected to last another 1-2 months, and some areas may see the season extended by 2-3 months in the period leading up to 2100.
More frequent and intense precipitation can cause problems for agriculture and cause erosion. In general, floods are expected to increase in extent, however, there are great local variations.
Sea acidification is likely to accelerate. In Norwegian waters a decline of minimum 0.5 pH units is expected this century.
Climate change connected to socio-economic development
Norwegian society has undergone considerable change in the last hundred years. Income from the oil and gas industry has resulted in a considerable increase in living standard in the last twenty to thirty years, and is the main reason for Norway’s favorable economic position. Norway has become one of the world’s leading welfare states, and income and consumption levels have changed radically.
At the same time, oil and gas production has been the main cause of the increase in Norway’s carbon dioxide emissions since 1990.
Petroleum activities, transport and industry most important sources
CO2 emissions from petroleum activities, transport and industry are the main culprits in Norway. Other sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Norway are agriculture, shipping, fisheries, heating of households and landfills.
The total greenhouse gas emissions increased by nearly 6 percent from 1990 to 2011. Emissions from the oil and gas industry increased by 73 percent, and emissions from road traffic increased by nearly 30 percent. However, the emissions from manufacturing industries fell by almost 38 percent. Emissions from agriculture and landfills has also gone down.
Up to 2020, emissions from the oil and gas industry are expected to remain at about the current level, and then to decline towards 2030. Emissions from the transport sector is expected to continue to grow, and an increase in emissions from manufacturing industries is also expected.
CO2 tax and quota system most important instruments
There is a close relation between economic development, energy use and lifestyle and greenhouse gas emissions. The costs of reducing greenhouse gases can vary considerably from sector to sector. To a large extent the instruments are therefore a compromise between environmental and other interests.
Ninety per cent of emissions comprised by instruments
The CO2 tax introduced in 1991 is Norway’s main instrument in environmental policy. In addition, a national emissions quota system for parts of the processing industry and the offshore sector, was introduced in 2005 and will be expanded from 2013. From 2012 aviation is also included in the quota system. This means that there are targeted instruments for approximately ninety per cent of Norwegian emissions.
Agriculture and fisheries not covered by instruments
Only agricultural emissions, which constitute approximately eight per cent of the national emissions, and fisheries, which amount to about two per cent of emissions, are not covered by any instruments.