Norway is on an anti-car roll. After announcing a plan to ban cars from Oslo’s city center by 2019, it is now aiming to reduce sales of gas-powered cars to zero by 2025. But instead of banning petrol-engined vehicles outright, the plan is to make the alternatives much more attractive to buy.
Like many European countries, Norway is ruled by a confusing coalition government. Last week, the Progress Party announced that Norway would ban gas car sales by 2025, and it was interpreted by many, including Elon Musk, and the Norwegian Dagens Næringsliv newspaper, as a done deal. But subsequent reports say that while Norway’s left-leaning parties have confirmed that the report is true, the right-wing parties have denied it.
The truth is that there will be no ban, but there will be a slew of measures designed to make owning and driving old gas-guzzlers much more difficult, while promoting zero-emissions vehicles in their place.
Norway is already promoting alternate methods of transport, with plans for a new billion-dollar network of bike highways and the ban on cars in Oslo’s city center. With air pollution and congestion levels in major cities getting worse, it seems that the best way to fix it is to get rid of the zillions of cars that trundle through them, burning oil and pumping the results into the air. London is investing in electric delivery vehicles, and Paris is banning old cars from entering the city on weekdays.
The key to ridding our cities of cars is to provide plentiful alternatives, and to make car use as painful as possible. People still need to get around, and just banning cars will leave them stranded. With this in mind, Norway looks to have quite a holistic plan lined up.
"The target will be backed up by a series of efforts (taxes, subsidies, charging stations, hydrogen infrastructure, differentiated rush-hour taxes, etc.) to maintain high speed in the transition," Anders Bjartnes, editor of Norsk Klimastiftelse, the news outlet for the Norwegian Climate Foundation, told Craig Morris of Renewables International.
Will Norway be the first country to go gas-free? If so, it would be quite ironic: Norway is one of the world’s biggest oil producers, and the largest producer in Europe.
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