Sustainability | Renewable Energy

Eco-Capital – Oslo, Norway

Oslo: Net Zero Future


Oslo Opera House and the Oslo cityscape

Oslo has fleets of electric mass public transit throughout the city - electric trams, buses, and ferries - that are powered by electricity from a municipal grid fed almost entirely by renewable energy (RE).

A share of Oslo's public transit fleets of buses and ferries run directly on renewables (renewable fuel such as biogas), and other fleets on electricity.

In Norway, a majority of electricity is from hydropower (over 90%) - but there is also a relatively smaller share of wind (over 7%) and thermal energy.

Waterfront homes on a fjord in Oslo

Oslo not only sources electricity for public mass transit from RE, but also uses RE sources to provide electricity for every other sector of the city’s economy as well.

For heating within the city, Oslo primarily relies on district heating from municipal waste incinerators (waste to energy, or W2E), as well as biomass-fed cogeneration plants. Electric heat pumps also supply heat to many of the city's homes and buildings.

Green building practices, such as passive building design, also help maintain heat for the city's buildings.

Oslo has a goal of a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of 95% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). Additionally, Norway is striving to become a carbon-neutral nation. 2030 is the target year that the Norwegian parliament has set to reach carbon neutrality for the country.

The capital city of Oslo is leading Norway down the green path to a net zero GHG emissions future. Renewable energy, district heating, as well as heat pumps and other green building practices, are all measures Oslo focuses on to reach net zero - as are electric vehicles (EVs).

Increasing EVs in Oslo


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EVs charging on a street in Oslo

The Norwegian government already offers aggressive incentives for drivers to buy electric cars.

These incentives include eliminating sales tax nationally for the purchase of some EVs, 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.

Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are still taxed, providing a disincentive for ICE vehicles, while tax-free EVs are incentivized.

Norway plans to only allow zero-emission new cars to be registered in the country (starting in 2025, at the soonest).

As in the country of Norway as a whole, most new car sales in the capital city of Oslo are EVs. Oslo has the most EVs per capita of any major city in the world.

The old stock of fossil-fueled 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).

The 2019 European Green Capital


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Oslo, Norway

Since 2010, an annual European Green City Capital has been awarded to European cities with a population over 100,000 (the population of Oslo municipality is about 700,000).

Oslo was the 2019 European Green Capital in recognition of high environmental standards, sustainable urban development, and green job creation.

Additional considerations for this award include public mass transit, conservation, biodiversity, air quality, waste management, and implementing measures to achieve a low citywide carbon footprint.

Oslo has also created its own Sustainable Cities Program, and has ambitious emission reduction goals.

Here are a couple of quotes from DW on why Oslo was chosen as Europe's 2019 eco-capital -

"Nearly half of all new cars sold [in Oslo] are fully electric. [Today, the share of new car sales that are EVs is well over half]. 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."


"[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."


Eco Capital Oslo Norway
Oslo Harbor



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Eco-Capital – Oslo, Norway 616

Eco-Capital – Oslo, Norway