Cars

Published on June 9th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

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Norway Will Not Ban Gas & Diesel Car Sales

June 9th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Renewables International.
By Craig Morris

Just when you thought Twitter was only good for cat GIFs comes a tweet from Norway’s Climate Minister confirming that the global media have gotten the story all wrong.

It all started in English with this report at QZ.com entitled “Norway has reportedly reached a deal to ban gas-powered car sales by 2025.” Elon Musk’s (of Tesla) tweet celebrating the news is also cited – and to be fair, the report says “the details are in some dispute.”

The source of the confusion is an article in Norwegian (in these days of browser translators, not an insurmountable obstacle) behind a paywall (okay, never mind). The Twitter swarm agrees that the Norwegian report is confusing. And the swarm handed me up the chain of command to Norwegian Climate Minister Vidar Helgesen, who tweeted what all of my other Norwegian contacts had already said.

Anders Bjartnes, editor of Norsk Klimastiftelse/Energi og Klima, helped me understand the issue by email: “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.” He also quoted Norwegian MP Ola Elvestuen of the Liberal Party (since “liberal” practically has no clear meaning in English, see this description of the party):

“I am a liberal politician and don’t support the use of force to get rid of petrol and diesel cars. The goal is to make zero/low-omission cars so attractive that people choose them.”

Bjartnes also says that diesel & gasoline cars have already fallen below 50% of new sales in the Hordaland/Bergen area (for reasons we will have to come back to in a future article).

So there you have it: Norway is not going to prohibit its citizens from buying new diesel/gasoline cars, but it will implement progressive policies to encourage a transition towards electric vehicles. That’s great news, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add the following:

  • Norway continues to extract as much carbon from the ground as possible even as we all praise it for its progress in sexy issues that go viral. Because we count carbon emissions at the end of the pipe rather than the point of extraction, Musk and Co. may never mention Norway’s giant new gas venture in Iran. (They get to make a profit selling it to you, and you’re the bad guy for consuming it.)
  • All of these incentives will eventually have to be done away with. Once electric vehicles make up a large share of the car fleet, we cannot have them not paying tolls anywhere, traveling for free on ferries, parking everywhere for free, etc. The foregone revenue is eventually too great. We need a different kind of taxation.
  • Electric cars are still cars, and there is no place for them in a 2,000-Watt Society.
  • Electric cars are still cars, and they clog up our streets. We need far fewer cars. A shift from private ownership to participation in (possibly self-driving) fleets will be crucial here.
  • Electric cars are a patch for the problem of urban sprawl. Fix urban sprawl, and you don’t need so many electric cars.

… says the happy owner of a new electric bicycle – another issue we will have to come back to in a future post.

Reprinted with permission.


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  • bowie1

    I can see a total ban on gas and diesel powered cars would make it difficult for those who can only afford older, second hand cars. But then what can you expect from bureaucrats with their fat paychecks who seem to be unaware of those cannot afford the newest, fuel free cars if it comes to Norway.

    • Bob_Wallace

      There’s confusion over what the government intends to do. Here is the clarification from

      “No ban, but strong actions to reach target of zero new fossil-fuel cars sold as from 2025.” Norwegian Climate Minister Vidar Helgesen

      Now, had you read the article before spouting off about “bureaucrats with their fat paychecks” you would have known that.

  • ROBwithaB

    All the stats on that bicycle, except what he paid…
    Looks pretty sturdy. I want.

  • SynneGundersen

    This was an unnecessary clutter.
    The newspaper never wrote that gasoline cars would be banned. They wrote that the sale would be stopped. But several interpreted this as a ban.
    Then spokemen of two of the parties said that they never would ban sales of fossil cars. This interpreted many that nothing came of 2025 plan, something the spokesmen never had said. After a few meetings the process was back on track, with an underscore that a ban was not an appropriate instrument to reach det goal of 2025

    • ha. thanks for the clarification, and explanation of how this occurred. 😀

  • Sturle Espolin Fladmark

    This was a proposition from one of the parties in the current (conservative) government. It is not come to any decisions, and it will not do so in several years.

    The May sales figures are in: 37.9% of cars sold in Norway were some kind of EV/hybrid in May. The phasing out of pure fossile fuel cars are not so far off. They may die out without any prohibition before 2025.

    • SynneGundersen

      Wrong. The parties behind this proposal is the two partis forming a government coalition, and their two support parties. They have together the majority in Parliament. In addition, two green parties will support this, and Norway’s largest party, now in opposition, has even proposed the same earlier this year (albeit from 2030).

  • Philip W

    Don’t cry over it. A ban is not necessary. ICE cars will be incredibly unattractive by 2025 so I wouldn’t be surprised if pretty much all passenger cars will be EVs by then.

    • Ross

      Hope you are right. There’s a real prospect you are.

    • J.V. Marrum

      Hahahaha!

  • It is a pity.

    They have missed a great opportunity to show the world the future.

    • Anti Lord Kelvin

      It’s not a so difficult practical problem, it’s most a political problem (banning something as so personal and individual affirmative asset like a car). In the other hand, raising the sales taxes for new ICE cars (particularly the diesel ones) every years ( and in maybe a raising scale on the numbers of engine cylinders making high-end cars with V6, V8 and V10 engines becoming more and more ridiculously expensive along the years, then doing the same for ICE cars with V4, and finally for the smaller ICE cars). And this strategy would may bring enough taxes to compensate the “loosing” taxes or tax rebates for EV sales that some politics are crying against in almost every countries (only to bring the average people to reject these “favours”, and then tentatively delaying the inevitable down of the some friendly industries that used to pay for their election campaign).

  • Ross

    Given the Norwegian track record on EV deployment they could do it. It is up to the rest of us to stop buying their fossil fuels.

    • “It is up to the rest of us to stop buying their fossil fuels.”
      — Love that.
      So important. We may easily demonize oil companies, but until we stop buying their product, I’d say that we don’t have much right to do that.

      • Harry Johnson

        Except oil companies around the world have been getting preferential treatment for fees, taxes and environmental lenience for over 100 years. We have politicians being bought by oil and auto companies to write legislation in their favor. Norway’s exceptional wealth comes from selling and burning oil. But it’s up to EVs to convince consumers otherwise.

        • Yes, but we also vote with our dollars. If we decide something isn’t acceptable to support, we can stop supporting it.

          • Harry Johnson

            Far too many millions of American voters are a truly disturbing force. Other nations have people like this too but we seem to be going backwards in evolution with the rest of us wondering how things got this crazy again.

        • neroden

          We should definitely get rid of the preferential treatment, but I think Norway doesn’t give them preferential treatment. For instance, the oil companies get all kinds of crazy tax breaks in the US. However, I think they actually *don’t* in Norway.

      • Matt

        I would place them like people selling “cancer sticks” except they get a lot of support and special treatment from the worlds governments. If instead of supporting them, governments charged them a similar % as on smokes, or at least twice the current health estimates. Then the magic of the market would handle the rest. Your doctor gets you addicted to a drug, and then it is all your problem for still want to use it. Yea that sounds about right.

  • Brunel

    I would ban petrol cars from being given away in raffles and TV quiz shows!

    “Its a new car!”

    • MrL0g1c

      I’d put an additional sales tax on engine capacity over 1litre of $50,000 per liter, for the 2nd liter, doubling for each liter after that. No exceptions and would also apply to 2nd hand.

      • Brunel

        You cannot put such a high tax on used cars.

        You can put a big tax on petrol and parking – while exempting EVs from parking fees.

      • J.V. Marrum

        Are you insane?

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