By 2019, cars will not be allowed in downtown Oslo, the capital of Norway, which has become one of the richest nations in the world by selling oil and gas to the rest of the world. Clearly, Oslo’s newly elected city council does not want these dirty fossil fuels polluting its back yard.
Oslo has a population of about 600,000 and nearly 350,000 cars. Most car owners live outside the centre. The city plans to halve CO2 emissions by 2020, compared to levels registered in 1990, and reduce them by 95% by 2030.
According to the city council, made up of the Greens, Socialist Left and Labour Party, Oslo will be the first European capital with a comprehensive car ban.
Within a few years, such streets in the centre of Oslo will have no cars.
The Green Party’s lead negotiator, Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, said:
“We want to have a car-free centre. We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone.”
While city policymakers are adamant that the plans will benefit all Osloites, many businesses are not convinced, with shop owners wondering whether their sales will suffer.
The council is committed to building more than 60km of bicycle lanes within the next four years, or before the next local elections. They also say there will be a ‘massive boost’ in public transport investment.
In a joint declaration, the three parties said arrangements will be found for vehicles carrying disabled people and delivering goods to shops.
Before the ban comes into force, the city council said it will study the experiences of other cities, carry out trial runs, and hold consultations.
Other European cities
Central London has a Congestion Charge of £11.50 per day for people driving a vehicle between 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Those who register for Congestion Charge Auto Pay get a £1 discount.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, also has a congestion charge. In September, the French capital Paris introduced a city-centre temporary car ban.
According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate:
“Preliminary production figures for September 2015 show an average daily production of about 1 864 000 barrels of oil, NGL and condensate.”
Most of its fossil fuels are exported all over the world.
The European Commission reports that Norway is in the global top 5 exporters of crude oil. Its oil & gas sectors make up about 22% of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) and 67% of all exports.