The draft national budget for 2013 proposes an 11.4 per cent increase in the Ministry of the Environment's budget. The top priorities in the Government's environmental strategy are the protection of natural diversity, conservation of cultural heritage and cultural environments, climate change mitigation, maps and geodata, and improved urban planning.
"The budget entails a powerful boost for environmental protection in Norway. Climate change is one of the main budget winners with NOK 10 billion earmarked for the fund for renewable energy and energy research, increased allocations for public transport, and higher CO2 tax. In addition, we want to scale up efforts to preserve cultural heritage and natural diversity, for example by increasing the allocations for forest protection by NOK 111 million," says Bård Vegar Solhjell, Minister of the Environment.
In addition to the strong environmental commitment entailed by the Ministry of the Environment's budget, many important measures have been incorporated into other ministries' budgets. One of the most important measures here is investments, operation and maintenance of Norway's railways, with an appropriation of NOK 15.5 billion in 2013. This is an increase of NOK 1.9 billion. The incentive scheme for improvements in public transport in urban areas will receive NOK 262 million more in 2013, bringing it up to NOK 673.1 million.
The national fund for climate change mitigation, renewable energy and energy conversion is being boosted by NOK 10 billion. The Government proposes strengthening climate research by a total of NOK 47 million, meaning the Research Council of Norway will have some NOK 400 million for climate-related research in 2013. The Government is also continuing its work on measures to combat deforestation and destruction of forests in developing countries. The Government has proposed NOK 630 million for carbon offsetting in 2013, an increase of NOK 115 million. All in all, the draft budget entails a NOK 2.9 billion increase in funding for environmental measures across all the ministries, bringing Norway's total environmental budget to NOK 44.3 billion.
Highlights of the environmental budget for 2013:
- The Ministry of the Environment's total draft budget for 2013 is NOK 5,453.7 million – an increase of NOK 560.2 million compared with the budget for 2012. The Ministry's budget has grown by more than NOK 2.7 billion since 2005, which is almost 100 per cent.
- The Government proposes an increase in the allocations to the programme category biodiversity and outdoor recreation of approx. NOK 218 million, bringing it to over NOK 1.8 billion. The increase in the budget for the protection of new forest areas of NOK 111.1 million will enable the introduction of conservation orders in many areas where there are currently voluntary conservation agreements. Funding for national parks is increasing by almost NOK 68 million. The Government is also proposing that NOK 14 million be earmarked to complete the introduction of the new management model and strengthen the management of protected areas, as well as increasing the funding for the follow-up of the predator management settlement by NOK 22 million.
- The budget for outdoor recreation has been increased by NOK 20 million to enable a broader commitment to outdoor recreation and public health. Particular importance is attached to reaching children and young people and facilitating low-threshold schemes for groups that do not currently engage in outdoor recreation.
• The Government is proposing a NOK 62 million increase in the allocations for the programme category protection of cultural heritage and cultural environments.
- A new priority area has been proposed for the largest cities to promote future-proof urban planning, improve the urban environment and facilitate increased housing construction.
- It is proposed that the planned Geodetic Earth Observatory in Ny-Ålesund is granted NOK 45.6 million and that climate research is boosted by NOK 10 million. Other ministries are also strengthening their climate research, with a total increase of NOK 47 million in 2013.
- NOK 25.8 million has been budgeted for expenses related to the property registration system Regina, which will be financed through the State's commission to the Norwegian Mapping Authority. The charges for the various different types of property registration have generally been highly overpriced. The Government is therefore proposing reducing the registration fees for real estate, entailing a drop in revenues of NOK 385 million to NOK 604 million.
- The vehicle scrapping scheme is being increased from NOK 221 million in 2012 to NOK 281 million in 2013.