Norway’s small municipalities are improving their work on climate change adaptation

Although the largest municipalities are performing best, it is the smallest municipalities that have made the biggest improvements in climate change adaptation since 2019. Nevertheless, more than 1 in 3 municipalities surveyed have hardly got started on this very important task, says Ivar Martinsen, Senior Advisor at If.

Together with CICERO, the Centre for Climate Research, If has carried out a survey of Norwegian municipalities’ work on climate change adaptation for the second year in a row.

‘In Norway, four out of five municipalities have already experienced extreme weather in the last 10 years. Most have been affected by increased rainfall (60 percent). This is followed by a change in water flow (52 percent) and consequences arising from increased temperature (45 percent)’, says senior researcher Marit Klemetsen from CICERO.

Municipalities that have experienced extreme weather have progressed further in terms of climate change adaptation than those without the same experiences. In the last 10 years, there have been almost four times as many major disaster events than in the period 1990-2009, and more than twice as many as in the period 2000-2009.

‘Claims arising from water ingress have increased by 325 percent in the last 10 years, compared to the previous 20. Claims arising from landslides have increased by 450 percent. These are significant figures for both people and society’, says Ivar Martinsen.

The best municipalities learn from others

One in four municipalities have not considered how future climate change could affect the municipality.

’Half of the municipalities have implemented climate change adaptation measures, but only one in three monitor and evaluate the work being done. Municipalities that are inspired by and learn from other municipalities perform much better in the survey on average. However, only 37 percent of the municipalities, and just 20 percent of small ones, look to others’, says Marit Klemetsen.

At the same time, the survey shows major differences across the 122 municipalities that responded, which amounts to 63 percent of Norway’s population.

‘Both the report’s findings and the lack of funding for measures show that efforts need to be stepped up on climate change adaptation. It is worrying that so many municipalities have not considered how this will affect the municipality in the future. We think that the municipalities require a little more help with implementing measures where there is obviously a need that is not being met today’, says Ivar Martinsen.

Ivar Martinsen

Senior Advisor, If

Marit Klemetsen

Senior Scientist, Cicero