Norway Climate Resilience Policy Indicator

This report is part of Climate Resilience Policy Indicator

Country summary

  • Norway’s average annual temperature has increased 1.1°C since 1900. Warming is expected to continue into the future: under a high-emissions scenario, the projected average temperature at the end of the century is about 4.5°C higher than it was during 1971-2000. The temperature rise is likely to be particularly marked in the northern part of the country and during the winter. Warming is expected to affect energy demand, mainly by reducing consumption for heating. Summer droughts may become more severe because of increased evapotranspiration.
  • Average annual precipitation rose about 20% between 1900 and 2014 and is likely to increase a further 18% by the end of the century (compared with the 1971-2000 period). The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events are also projected to increase, raising the overall amount of runoff in mainland Norway. As a result, rainfall floods are expected to become more frequent and severe, whereas snowmelt floods are expected to become less frequent and severe. If proper infrastructure and reservoir capacity are in place, the increased runoff could boost Norway’s hydropower generation.
  • Founded on well-established knowledge on energy sector climate resilience, Norway adopted a White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation in 2013 and a Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation 2015-2019. Both documents address climate impacts on the energy system, particularly the electricity system, and suggest policy measures to improve resilience. Although Norway’s energy policies also recognise energy sector climate impacts, their focus is on energy security and mitigation.

Climate hazard assessment

Level of floods, drought and tropical cyclones in Norway, 2000-2020


Level of warming in Norway, 2000-2020



Norway’s average temperature has risen 1.1°C since 1900, with marked seasonal and geographical disparities. Warming has been strongest during the spring and in northern parts of the country. The islands of Svalbard, situated further north, have experienced a higher warming rate than mainland Norway.

According to climate projections, the average temperature of Norway is likely to be 4.5 (3.3-6.4)°C1 higher by the end of the century than it was during 1971-2000. Although the temperature rise is expected to affect all seasons, it will be stronger in the winter than the summer. Consequently, the growing season (the number of days with an average temperature above 5°C) is likely to lengthen considerably by the end of the century. Northern Norway is expected to warm more quickly (by up to 6°C) while western Norway should experience a smaller increase (3.9°C).1 In addition, the warming rate is likely to be higher inland than in coastal areas.

This temperature increase would impact energy demand by decreasing the number of heating degree days (HDDs). According to an assessment of climate change adaptation in Norway, milder winters will likely reduce energy demand for heating, especially in the southern part of the country. However, the increase in cooling degree days (CDDs) could raise the demand for cooling, particularly for large buildings such as hospitals and care homes.

Temperature in Norway, 2000-2020


Cooling degree days in Norway, 2000-2020


Heating degree days in Norway, 2000-2020



Average annual precipitation increased by 18% between 1900 and 2014, with seasonal variations. This rise in precipitation was greatest in the spring and smallest in summer. According to climate projections, Norway’s average annual precipitation could be 18% greater than in 1971-2000 across all seasons by the end of the century.1

The number of days with heavy precipitation (above the 99.5th percentile for 24-hour precipitation) could increase by 89%.1 by the end of the century, with the highest increase in the winter (+143%). This rise in frequency is also likely to be coupled with higher precipitation intensity. In fact, the amount of rainfall received during heavy precipitation events is projected to increase by 12% to 19%.2 by the end of the century. Therefore, the magnitude of rainfall-induced floods could be 60% greater in 2071-2100 than it was in 1971-2000.1

Furthermore, overall runoff in the Norwegian mainland could be 3% to 7% greater by the end of the century.3 Modified precipitation characteristics may, however, widen the gap between winter and summer runoff, as it is expected to increase in the winter as precipitation amounts rise and a greater share arrives as rainfall. In contrast, summer runoff is expected to decrease as a result of greater evaporation and early snowmelt caused by higher temperatures. Reduced summer runoff could increase the severity of droughts. Finally, rainfall flood intensity is likely to increase and snowmelt flood intensity is likely to decrease by the end of the century, with an up to 50% reduction in spring flooding.4

Nevertheless, according to the assessment of climate change adaptation for Norway, runoff changes could positively affect the country’s hydropower generation overall, although investments in reservoir capacity and power infrastructure may be required to fully capture the anticipated benefits.

Tropical cyclones and storms

Storms and heavy snowfall have been the most common reason for electricity supply interruptions in recent years.5 For example, in September 2018 strong winds coupled with local snowfall toppled trees onto distribution lines, interrupting the electricity supply for 77 500 homes, and in January 2019 40 000 households were affected. Strong winds, combined with a rising sea level, may increase the height and frequency of storm surges. In fact, Norway’s sea level rose approximately 1.9 mm per year between 1960 and 2010, and the rate of increase doubled during the 1993-2014 period.

Policy readiness for climate resilience

Norway has built a strong foundational knowledge base concerning energy sector climate resilience since the 2000s. In 2010, the national assessment report Adapting to a Changing Climate: Norway’s Vulnerability and the Need to Adapt to the Impacts of Climate Change discussed energy sector adaptation, particularly regarding electricity supply. The potential climate impacts it lists are: increased maintenance requirements; greater damage frequency; and positive effects for hydropower generation, based on data from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) and the Norwegian Mapping Authority.

In 2013, the Norwegian Centre for Climate Services was established to inform adaptation measures. Among its reports is a 2015 synthesis report serving as a knowledge base for climate adaptation. In 2019, the Norwegian Environment Agency published a report giving an overview of status and knowledge on the consequences of climate change in Norway.

Along with comprehensive research and analyses of climate change adaptation and resilience, in 2013 Norway’s parliament adopted a White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation covering energy sector adaptation and resilience. The paper’s section dedicated to the power supply system (in the chapter on buildings and other infrastructure) described existing and potential measures while clarifying the roles of relevant governmental entities. For instance, it proposed that the NVE plan necessary maintenance and upgrades to adapt to changes in runoff patterns during the licensing process. Based on this suggestion the NVE adopted the Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation 2015-2019. The strategy emphasises that climate change adaptation must be integrated into the NVE’s different areas of work (e.g. licences for hydropower installation and operation; energy licences for new plants), and it encouraged the acquisition of the best possible knowledge on the impacts of climate change on energy supply and demand.

Norway’s energy policies also consider climate impacts, but their focus is on energy security and mitigation rather than adaptation and resilience. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy’s 2016 white paper Power for Change - Energy Policy Towards 2030 thoroughly covers the impacts of climate change on energy, but climate resilience is not included as a focus area. While some of the white paper’s measures (such as enhanced flexibility) could raise resilience, most actions concern energy supply security, efficiency, and renewable energy production.

The country also made significant efforts to involve various stakeholders – from municipalities to cities – to increase Norway’s climate resilience. Since 2009, the Norwegian website has provided municipalities with tools, case studies and information on climate change adaptation. Moreover, an introductory course on climate change adaptation for municipalities has been developed and implemented in several counties. In order to involve cities, the government and Norway’s 13 largest cities engaged in the Cities of the Future programme (2008-2014) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

In 2015, the I front network was established to unite 13 larger municipalities in their joint efforts to adapt to climate change. The network aims to develop new knowledge on climate change adaptation at the local level and to share participating cities’ competencies through joint projects. The government has also funded the NorAdapt research centre, established in 2019 to provide information on how Norwegian society can adapt to the consequences of climate change.

  1. By 2071-2100, according to IPCC climate scenario RCP 8.5.

  2. According to IPCC climate scenarios RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5, respectively.

  3. Compared with 1971-2000, according to IPCC climate scenarios RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5, respectively.

  4. By 2071-2100 compared with 1971-2000, according to IPCC climate scenario RCP 8.5.

  5. Storm indicates any disturbed state of the atmosphere, strongly implying destructive and unpleasant weather, and storms can range in scale. Tropical cyclone is the general term for a strong, cyclonic-scale disturbance that originates over tropical oceans. In this article, we use the general terms tropical cyclone and storm, but they can be divided into different detailed categories. A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with one-minute average surface winds between 18 and 32 m/s. Beyond 32 m/s, a tropical cyclone is called a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone, depending on its geographic location. Hurricanes refer to the high-intensity cyclones that form in the South Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific; typhoons occur in the northwest Pacific; and the more general term cyclone applies to the South Pacific and Indian oceans.