Chemicals

"Chemicals" is a catchall term for chemical substances and compounds that both exist naturally and are produced industrially. The goal of the environment protection authorities is that the discharge and use of such chemicals shall damage neither human health nor nature's capacity for production and renewal.

Concerning the most hazardous chemicals, the goal is for the concentrations in the environment to be reduced to the background level for naturally existing substances, and to be virtually zero for man-made compounds.

Climate

The goal of the environment protection authorities is that the concentration of greenhouse gases shall be stabilized at a level that will prevent dangerous, man-made impacts on the climate system.

Renewable energy

Hydroelectric power, wind power, and bioenergy are important sources of renewable energy in Norway. We produce electricity from hydroelectric and wind power, while bioenergy is primarily used for thermal energy.

The Norwegian Environment Agency serves as both technical advisor and relevant authority in regard to developing and operating hydroelectric facilities, wind power facilities, and power lines, as well developing and implementing sustainable energy standards for biofuel.

Conservation Areas

National parks and other conservation areas are meant to safeguard vulnerable and threatened ecosystems and preserve areas of international, national, and regional worth.

The government and the Storting establish the framework for Norwegian nature conservation, while the Norwegian Environment Agency, the country governors, and the governor of Svalbard carry out the conservation work pursuant to the Nature Diversity Act and the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act.

In total, Norway administers around 3000 conservation areas on the mainland and Svalbard.

Outdoor recreation

Everyone in Norway shall have access to nature. The country is richly endowed with hiking trails and the like, and the right to roam allows us to move freely across large areas.

The Norwegian Environment Agency's task is to ensure that the right to roam is respected in actual practice and to promote the recreational use and enjoyment of nature. We focus in particular on nature in densely populated districts, because such areas are easy to use in everyday life.

Hunting and fishing

Along with the Ministry of the Environment, the Norwegian Environment Agency shares the overall responsibility for administration and tasks related to the fishery sector, wildlife resources, and hunting and fishing.

Information about receiving training in hunting and fishing, as well as an overview of the relevant provisions.

Pollution and noise

Air

The environment protection authorities aim to reduce local air pollution, so as to promote human health and well-being.

On the basis of international obligations, Norway has also established national targets for long-distance pollution, concerning components that contribute to acidification, eutrophication, and ground-level ozone.

Oil and gas

The environment protection authorities aim to ensure that water in marine areas is of such a quality that it both preserves species and ecosystems and promotes human health and well-being.

The concentration of greenhouse gases shall be stabilized at a level that will prevent dangerous, man-made impacts on the climate system.

Contaminated seabed

The seabed sediments in many harbour and fjord areas in Norway have been highly contaminated by environmental toxins, the sources of which include industrial activities and surface runoff.

Such contamination must be purified so that the environmental toxins are not spread further and pollute the surroundings. The authorities have already established county-specific action plans for 29 areas along the Norwegian coast, and 17 areas have been given priority for purification. Further areas are also being investigated.

Contaminated soil

Several areas in Norway are exposed to abnormally high concentrations of environmental toxins in the soil, often because of previous discharges from the industrial sector and old landfills.

The environment protection authorities aim to both purify contaminated soil and prevent it from occurring at all. The goal is to either stop or substantially reduce the spread of environmental toxins, including surface runoff to nearby areas and the exposure of people, animals, and plants in the vicinity of the contaminated areas

Noise

The environment protection authorities aim to prevent and reduce noise so as to promote human health and well-being.

Noise is pollution, as defined in the Pollution Control Act. A new, bipartite target for noise pollution was established in 2007: 1) noise pollution shall be reduced by 10 per cent within 2020 compared with 1999; and 2) the number of people exposed to indoor noise levels of over 38 dB shall be reduced by 30 per cent within 2020 compared with 2005.

The first target concerns general noise pollution in Norway, while the second target concerns those who are exposed to the highest levels of noise.

Species and ecosystems

Natural areas in Norway are coming under increasing pressure, and many species and ecosystems are in danger of disappearing.

The Norwegian Environment Agency is responsible for acquiring knowledge and implementing measures to preserve biodiversity as best as possible.

Cultural landscape

The term "cultural landscape" refers to all landscapes that have been influenced by human activity.

Both ecosystems and longstanding agricultural landscapes are on the verge of disappearing because of changes in the cultural landscape. Several plants, insects, and animals are found only in this landscape.

The Norwegian Environment Agency cooperates with the agricultural sector, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage, and several research and education communities in our work on cultural landscapes. We survey, monitor, implement measures, and manage the landscapes.

Genetically modified organisms

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants, animals and micro-organisms in which the genetic material has been altered through gene or cell technology.

In Norway the production and use of GMOs is regulated by the Gene Technology Act and derived products is regulated by the Food Act.

Waste

The Norwegian Environment Agency strives to ensure that waste resources are used as much as possible and that new waste is prevented.

All forms of waste management run the risk of damaging health and the environment. We seek to promote that as much as possible of the waste is used, while keeping damages to an absolute minimum.

The Norwegian Environment Agency drafts regulations for the waste sector and provides guidelines for how these regulations are to be practised.

Water and sea

Marine and coastal areas

Norway has large coastal and marine areas that are rich in species and ecosystems. Human activity and climate change threaten such biodiversity and create major challenges for the administration of these areas.

The environment protection authorities aim to ensure that the water quality in marine areas helps preserve species and ecosystems and also promote human health and well-being.

Inland waters

Our inland waters, comprising lakes, rivers, wetlands, and groundwater, are vital for plants, animals, and human beings.

The environmental challenges in such waters include watercourse regulation, acid rain, runoff of agricultural nutrients, contamination from environmental toxins, and the intrusion of foreign species.

The Norwegian Environment Agency coordinates the work of establishing a cohesive, ecosystem-based water management. The goal is that the quality of all water shall be ecologically and chemically satisfactory.

Other tasks

Environmental monitoring

Monitoring the state of the environment enables the authorities to implement measures for either preserving environmental values or preventing their deterioration.

The goal of such monitoring is to obtain solid information that will serve as the basis for measures and political decisions, as well as to ensure that the general public has a right to information about the state of the environment, pursuant to the Environmental Information Act.

Supervision

The Norwegian Environment Agency and the various country governors control that enterprises comply with the environmental rules and regulations.

If our inspections uncover non-compliance with the regulations, we impose a deadline for rectifying the matter. Non-compliance also entails follow-up supervision, fines, or that the case is reported to the police. Inspections are an essential instrument for ensuring that regulations are complied with. The Norwegian Environment Agency's supervision is based on the provisions and regulations laid down in the Pollution Control Act, the Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Act, and the Product Control Act.

Internationally

The goal of the environment protection authorities for international environmental cooperation is threefold:

  • Such cooperation shall help reduce global, regional, and Norwegian environmental problems caused by activities, emissions, and discharges from other countries.
  • Promote a sustainable development and ameliorate the state of the environment both in our own region and in developing countries;
  • Ensure that international agreements and regulations establish frameworks that do not undermine our national environmental policies.