The global mean temperature has risen since measurements started at the end of the 1800s, and most rapidly in the past 50 years. The impacts on both people and the environment may be serious.

Rising temperatures, rising emissions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the global mean temperature will continue to rise. Just how much the temperature rises will depend partly on the volume of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Consumption is rising and the volume of transport is growing, and people are using more and more energy, particularly from sources such as coal, oil and gas. This is true not only in rich countries, but also in poor countries, which want to share our prosperity.

In recent years, emissions of greenhouse gases have varied stronger than before. This reflects the large fluctuations in the global economy. But the overall trend is still that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing.

Poor countries hardest hit

People across the world will probably experience more frequent and more severe extreme weather events as a result of climate change – storms and flooding, heat waves and drought. Rising sea levels will submerge low-lying areas. Arid regions may become even dryer.

Habitats and species will be affected, people’s livelihoods may be threatened, and diseases may spread more quickly.

Poor countries, which are least equipped to adapt to climate change, will be hit particularly hard.

Global cooperation is essential

In order to limit global warming sufficiently, we must reverse the trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Extensive emission reductions are necessary.

This will require that we change both production and consumption patterns. It has been difficult to agree on sufficient global emission reductions. As part of worldwide efforts to keep the global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius this century, the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have set out to try to agree on a comprehensive global climate agreement in 2015.

Norway’s committment under the Kyoto Protocol has been to limit emissions in the period 2008–12 to no more than one per cent higher than in 1990. Norway has also decided to voluntarily strengthen its Kyoto commitment by 10 percentage points.

In Norway we are using instruments such as the CO2 tax and the national emissions trading scheme to achieve our goals, and new technology is being developed. We will also provide financial support for measures to reduce emissions in other countries, mainly poor countries.