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Oslo is leading the world in EV adoption, other sustainability measures

Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway - Europe's eco-capital

Oslo is actively pursuing a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of over 95% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). The target year that the Norwegian parliament has set to reach carbon neutrality is 2030. Oslo is leading the nation in many sustainability metrics, on Norway's path to becoming a carbon neutral (net zero) nation. Electric vehicle (EV) adoption is one of a few primary indicators of any country or city's success in reaching carbon neutrality goals, and Oslo is certainly successful from that standpoint. The majority of new car sales in Oslo are 100% EVs, plug-in EVs, or hybrids.

parking for electric cars only, with charging stations, in Oslo

Additionally, the entire country of Norway has well over a 50% share of new EV sales, and with plug-ins, that number is even higher. Norway is the first country in the world where the majority of new car sales are EVs. The capital city of Oslo is leading Norway down the green path to a net zero carbon future. Oslo leads the world in terms of EV adoption (Oslo has the most EVs per capita of any city globally).

As in the country of Norway as a whole, well over half of new car sales in the capital city Oslo are EVs. The old stock of fossil-fueled internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are being phased out in the city. Non-EVs account for a relatively small fraction of new vehicle sales in Norway today, as ICE vehicles become less and less popular.

It must be emphasized that the number of EVs, hybrids, and alternative fuel vehicles in Oslo is the highest in the world (per capita). There are now more light-duty electric cars on Oslo's roads than light-duty ICE cars, as ICE cars are gradually replaced by EVs (and with plug-in hybrids included, the number of non-ICE cars in Oslo is even higher).

"Oslo city has a near-zero emissions target for 2030. The city’s climate department publishes a quarterly ‘climate barometer’ report, and Q1 2020 shows that new electric car sales within the city are hovering around 60%, with plug in hybrids accounting for another 16%. Petrol and diesel account for just 15% of new car sales".  [FROM  -]

[Update (as of September 2021) - nearly 80% of new car sales in Oslo were electric - and electric vehicles are exempt from taxes imposed on ICE vehicles.]

Reducing the carbon footprint of Oslo's roads by transitioning to vehicles with low or zero GHGs will accelerate Oslo's mission to get to net zero. Oslo has fleets of sustainable mass public transit - trams, electric and alternative-fueled buses, and ferries - that run directly on renewables; or are electric, or electric-hybrids. The share of electric buses in Oslo's bus fleets is also climbing. Oslo expects all public transit to be emissions-free by 2028.

fjord in Oslo

A majority of electricity on the grid in Norway is from hydropower - but energy is also sourced from biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind energy (along with a share of fossil fuels). Oslo not only sources a share of renewable energy for public mass transit (as biofuel), but also uses a share of renewable energy sources to provide electricity for every other sector of the city’s economy as well. Oslo's use of energy sources such as hydroelectricity and biomass illustrates how the city makes good use of locally sourced renewable energy from the city's plentiful lakes, rivers, forests, and agricultural lands.

For heating buildings within the city, Oslo primarily relies on district heating from municipal waste incinerators; and biomass-fed cogeneration plants. Biomass-fueled boilers, such as those operated in CHP power plants owned by Fortum Oslo Verme, heat many of the city's homes and buildings, in addition to supplying Oslo with a renewable source of electricity. 

A permanent car ban in Oslo?   

there are pedestrianized streets in & around Karl Johans Gate Street (Oslo city center's main thoroughfare)

There is already a congestion charge for entering Oslo city center by car during the daytime. Oslo's congestion levy mirrors London's congestion levy for cars entering London city center; both effectively create low emission zones. In 2015, the Oslo city council announced its intention to make the Oslo city center a completely car-free zone by 2019 (a dream that got stalled by politics) - as part of a proposed, and still potential, country-wide ban in Norway of low-efficiency fossil fuel vehicles. If it does happen it will be the first permanent car-free zone in Europe and the largest of its kind.

For now, cars are still to be found on the streets of Oslo, as a complete car ban in the city has yet to be mandated. However, Oslo is still implementing some of the sustainability measures that were to go hand-in-hand with the car ban; such as increasing the number of, and widening, bike lanes, mandating pedestrian and cycle only zones around markets and green spaces, and developing 'pocket parks' around sidewalks and bike lanes.  [For more information on this topic, please read -]

Some local businesses in Oslo, as well as some residents of Oslo and the rest of Norway, protested the proposed citywide car ban and managed to change political will for the ban, in order to stop it for now. A bit of the story of how the Oslo car ban was stopped is seen in this excerpt from an article in Fast Company-

"Oslo first pedestrianized some streets in the city center in the 1970s, and invested heavily in public transportation in the 1980s. In 2015, when a progressive political coalition came to power in the city council, they started planning a more significant transformation. At first, they called for a full ban on cars because the majority of residents in the city center didn’t drive. But when business owners objected, worried that they’d lose customers and have problems with deliveries, the government changed focus to remove parking spots– a slightly more gradual approach. For now, there are still parking garages on the periphery of the city center."   [FROM-]

Oslo is doing the best it can to make transit in the city as sustainable as possible. The ‘carrot’ in this scenario is the boost to public mass transit, and an addition of 40 miles of bicycle lanes. The ‘stick’, however, is the idea of new tax levies on heavy vehicles registered before 2014 and increased tax on passenger cars. Electric and plug-in hybrid cars have a reduced levy when being assessed the congestion charge in Oslo. The city of Oslo has begun to remove parking spaces instead of a full-out car ban for now and is divesting from fossil fuel investments from city pension funds.

For more information on the planned ICE car ban in Oslo city center please see: [NOTE: the proposed ICE car ban in the Oslo city center has been pushed back by a few years compared to the original 2019 goal]

EVs in Norway

electric cars charging in the streets of Oslo, Norway

EVs are taking over the new car sale marketplace in Norway. When hybrids are included, EVs accounted for over 90% of new car sales, and around 80% of new passenger vehicles were electric in 09/2021 - "The [EV] sales numbers push Norway closer to meeting its national goal of transitioning to an entirely zero-emission fleet of new cars by 2025 — an initiative the government backs with lucrative tax incentives." This market trend of EVs becoming the majority of new Norwegian car sales continues to grow today, and this trend is more the case in the country of Norway than in any other country in the world.

Two Tesla electric cars charging in a Tesla charging station in Norway

Norway incentivizes EV adoption in various ways in order to encourage the country-wide transition from ICE vehicles to EVs, as seen in the below articles:

"The Norwegian [EV] success story is first and foremost due to a substantial package of incentives developed to promote zero-emission vehicles into the market. The incentives have been gradually introduced by different governments and broad coalitions of parties since the early 1990s to speed up the transition. The Norwegian Parliament has decided on a national goal that all new cars sold by 2025 should be zero-emission."   [FROM  -]

"Norway has long been hailed as a leader in the race to adopt electric cars, and it provides many incentives and benefits – including big reductions in purchase and road tax – for those who buy and drive them. Electric cars also enjoy cuts of at least 50% to parking, toll road, and ferry charges."   [FROM  -]

Looking at the wider picture, Norway plans to only allow zero-emission new cars to be registered in the country. The Norwegian government already offers aggressive incentives for drivers to buy electric cars; including eliminating sales tax nationally for the purchase of some EVs, and developing free parking spaces for EVs in major cities like Oslo, as well as building free parking garages for EVs with charging stations in Oslo.

The popularity of electric cars in Norway is growing at a quick rate. In 2016, 29% of new car sales in Norway were plug-in electric, and in January 2017 that number was 37.5%. Now, well over half of the new car sales in Oslo are electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, or hybrids. Over the last few years, Norway has been the only country in the world where all-electric vehicles have regularly topped the monthly rankings for new car sales.

The following is a snippet from Green Car Reports on a few of the incentives Norway has for EVs; highlighting the disincentives the country has for ICE vehicles-

"Per capita, Norway has more electric car owners and drivers than anywhere else in the world.

But why?

Widespread incentives play a part, as do steep taxes on gas and diesel vehicles—and the fuels themselves...

Norway makes gas- and diesel-powered cars far more expensive than they are in other countries. Taxation on gas and diesel vehicles turns into incentives for electric vehicles, whether powered via batteries or fuel cells [because by owning and driving an EV, these levies are avoided].

Collectively these zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) have no value-added tax, which is 25% on gas and diesel vehicles. There is no registration tax on used car sales, no annual ownership tax, and no fuel tax. Road tolls are fully or partially exempt, ferry fares are strongly reduced, bus lanes are mostly open to ZEVs, public parking fees are tossed for ZEVs and there is plenty of free charging for EVs."    [FROM -]

Other Low Emission Zones

Besides Oslo city center, another pioneering low-emissions zone in Europe is in London. The London congestion charge, and the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London, like Crit'Air throughout France, is designed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from inefficient fossil fuel cars; and also designed to get lower-emitting, more fuel-efficient vehicles (like electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids) on the road in place of their dirtier-fueled counterparts. 

A smaller municipality that has set a sustainable example by greatly reducing vehicles on its roads is the city district of Vauban in Freiburg, Germany. Vauban has effectively reduced the number of cars on its roads dramatically. Even Manhattan, NYC, is mandating a congestion charge similar to the one in London.

The rest of Europe is watching

It’s easy to see the attractions of a car-free zone. Apart from improvements in air quality for the city, and reductions in pollution, newly emptied roads can be rededicated as bike lanes, sidewalks, cafes, and public parks. After all, a car is one of the most inefficient ways to get around a city. Sustainable mass transit, like light rail and electric-biofuel hybrid buses, and biking and/ or walking, are much more sustainable options for public transit than automobiles. Other European cities like Copenhagen, Paris, Brussels, and Madrid, are watching Oslo closely. If successful, then the proposed car-free zone in Oslo could provide the blueprint for other cities to follow suit, making city centers a better place for everyone.

Oslo, Norway started 2019 as Europe's eco-capital - for more information on this, please see Some highlights from articles from DW, about why Oslo is Europe's eco-capital, and the importance of world cities maintaining a low carbon footprint-

"Nearly half of all new cars sold here [Oslo} are fully electric. There are trams, electric buses and ferries, all running on renewable hydroelectric power. During the icy winters, a waste incinerator plant heats many of the city's homes.

The city aims to cut emissions by 36 percent from 1990 levels by the end of next year, and 95 percent by 2030. To achieve this, the city council has introduced its own climate budget — possibly the first of its kind in the world."    [FROM-]

"The award [Europe's eco-capital award] honors high environmental standards, sustainable urban development and green job creation.

Indicators for being a green city include local transport, biodiversity, air quality, waste management, and noise [reduction]. Oslo, with its 660,000 inhabitants, is green not only due to its low carbon footprint of 1.9 tons per capita per year, Katja Rosenbohm tells DW. As head of communication at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, Rosenbohm was part of the jury that awarded Oslo its new title. "They have very ambitious targets, for example of having a car-free city by 2050." Rosenbohm also praises Oslo's "front-running activities in electro-mobility."     [FROM-]

Please also see:

London; London's congestion charge and ULEZ

*** More on>>>

Oslo, Norway - the 2019 European eco-capital

Oslo port

The 2019 European Green Capital is Oslo

Since 2010, an annual European Green City Capital has been awarded to European cities with a population of over 100,000 (the population of Oslo is about 660,000 and was the 2019 European green capital). Oslo won the eco-capital award in recognition of high environmental standards, sustainable urban development, green job creation. Additional considerations for this award include public mass transit, conservation, and biodiversity, air quality, waste management, and implementing measures to achieve a low citywide carbon footprint. Oslo has also created its own Sustainable Cities Program. Oslo has ambitious emission reduction goals, including reducing GHGs by 36% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and becoming fossil fuel car-free by 2050.

Oslo starts 2019 as Europe's eco-capital

The Norwegian capital plans to cut emissions by 95 percent by 2030, despite being one of Europe's fastest growing cities. As European Green Capital 2019, it hopes to set an example for others.    

Oslo waterfrontOslo's waterfront was once a mass of shipping containers and a vast intersection jammed with cars pumping out fumes. Today, traffic is diverted through an underwater tunnel, and much of it is made up of electric or hybrid cars. The new development has impressive environmental as well as cultural credentials, with all new buildings meeting energy efficiency standards for low energy use, explains Anita Lindahl Trosdahl, project manager for Oslo's Green Capital year.

Her office lies further along the waterfront, just a stone's throw from another cultural behemoth nearing completion — the new national museum. Meanwhile, new housing is shooting up across the city. These buildings aren't just designed to function sustainably, the city council is also making sure their construction has a limited environmental impact, too.

"We're using our market power to introduce fossil fuel-free construction," Trosdahl told DW. "So not only will the build in its lifetime be as sustainable as possible, but also during the construction period itself."


Read more from dw: Could oil nation Norway help save the climate?


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