Traditionally, the Norwegian regulatory framework has focused on Norwegian conditions and has been based on the Pollution Control Act from 1981, which lays down vital principles and grants authorities wide discretion for establishing obligations for the business sector through regulations and individual permits. EU directives and regulations have also played a significant role in shaping the regulatory framework.
In response to climate change, a new and complex legal framework has emerged. The Paris Agreement, seeking to limit the Earth's warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, is the overarching framework guiding initiatives and the development of new regulations – with profound consequences for countless businesses and industries. For example, the Norwegian Carbon Offset Act already operates to reduce emissions from industrial sources, petroleum, and aviation. The Act will also expand to cover shipping and air traffic emissions and is being tailored to include the construction and transportation industry. Carbon capture and storage regulations and energy efficiency requirements are other examples.
As demand for renewable energy has soared, the possibility of exploiting energy derived from the sea (including offshore wind) has become more apparent. The Norwegian Offshore Energy Act was adopted in response to this development several years ago, and the Offshore Energy Regulations, describing the licensing process in detail, entered into force on 1 January 2021.
Furthermore, in the years ahead integrating considerations of the natural environment in decision-making processes is likely to become even more important. The Norwegian Planning and Building Act will play a pivotal role in this regard.