Norway Takes the High Ground on Climate Change

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - There was some dramatic news out of Norway, showing what is possible on the climate front if the political will is there. The Norwegian government announced that they would cut their carbon emissions by no less than 40% from 1990 levels by the year 2030. This puts them in line with the ambitious target set by the European Union (EU).

Norway’s government says they want to join the EU’s climate policy framework, even though they aren’t members of the EU. They will continue to participate in the EU’s carbon trading scheme, though they will no longer use offsets to meet their target, relying instead on actual reductions.

Despite being Europe’s largest oil producer and the world’s third largest producer of natural gas, Norway relies mostly on renewables for its own domestic purposes. Abundant hydropower provides 97% of Norway’s electricity. Much of the rest comes from wind and biomass. Norway’s state energy company Statkraft, is the largest renewable energy generator in Europe. Given the country’s wealth of renewable resources, some environment groups were disappointed that the target wasn’t higher, but Frederic Hauge of the Oslo-based Bellona Foundation acknowledged that joining with the EU would make this target internationally binding.

Incentives Drive Norway To Take Lead in Electric Vehicle Sales

You might find this surprising, but Norway’s best selling cars for several months late last year were electric vehicles. EV’s accounted for more than 12% of all vehicle sales in November. With 21,000 EVs already on the road in a country of five million, EV's will soon constitute 1% of all Norwegian cars. The Nissan Leaf, priced at the lower end of the scale was the best-seller for one month, while for two months, the high end Tesla Model S topped the list. So there’s obviously a broad market being stimulated. This is a dramatically higher per capita rate of adoption than anywhere else in the world, close to 20 times that of the US.

Why so many? Well, government incentives are certainly playing a role. This is probably a case study of how effective government action can be. Zach Shahan at CleanTechnica shared survey findings that analyzed the reasons why people said they bought EVs, and rank-ordered them in a series of bar graphs. The top-ranked reason was that EV drivers would be exempt from tolls. The second reason was no vehicle purchase tax. Then was the fuel cost, about one-fifth the cost of running a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. The fourth reason was free access to the bus lanes. In Oslo, where there’s quite a bit of traffic, EVs are allowed to use the bus lanes, which can save time when roads are crowded. This feature could become self-limiting though, as the bus lanes are filling up with electric cars which make up as much as 75% of the traffic. This brings to mind Yogi Berra, who once said, apparently referring to a popular restaurant in his native St. Louis, “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”

Free charging, available at any of the thousands of charging points, ranked as the number seven reason for buying an electric vehicle.

There’s also a low annual road fee, free parking, and free ferries, and they tend to cost less to insure, probably because there are fewer parts that would have to be repaired in case of an accident.

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