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EVs Help Lower Total Emissions In Norway By 3.5% In 2020

Transportation emissions in Norway were down 4% last year, thanks in large part to more electric cars on the road.

Norway is deeply committed to the EV revolution. Of all the countries in the world, it has the most comprehensive system of electric car incentives. It includes big things like no purchase taxes on new electric cars to little things like reduced fares on bridges, tunnels, and highways. Those policies were put in place to help Norway lower its total greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris climate accords.

According to the latest report from Statistics Norway, those EV policies are working. In 2020, total emissions for the country were 49.3 million tons — a reduction of 3.5% from the prior year. Now, let’s be clear, 2020 was an unusual year because of the pandemic and all the changes in society it caused. Emissions worldwide declined because of workplace and travel restrictions. Nonetheless, EVs further helped to cut emissions.

Elbil, the Norwegian electric car association, says the greater number of electric cars on Norwegian roads was a big factor in that reduction. In fact, emissions from vehicles decreased by 4% in 2020 compared to 2019. Statistics Norway says the transport sector accounts for 30% of Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions, with just over half — 17% — coming from road traffic. It attributes the decline partly to fewer miles driven and partly to the fact that there are significantly more electric cars on the road. Recently, we reported that more EVs were using the toll roads around Oslo than gasoline-powered cars for the first time.

Unni Berge, the communications manager for Elbil, says, “This shows once again that the electric car policy we pursue in Norway is one of the most effective climate measures we have, and emphasizes the need to continue as much as possible of this policy until we have almost virtually the entire car fleet electrified.”

She adds that she is hopeful the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow will lead to new agreements that will accelerate the transition to electric transportation. “It is urgent to find effective strategies for cutting emissions. The transport sector accounts for over 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and these emissions must be eliminated over the next few decades.

“Norway is leading the way for other countries by having the world’s most ambitious phasing-in target for passenger cars and vans without emissions and has also had the strongest policies. We see year by year that it results in cuts in emissions.”

“We are seeing that the emission statistics from road traffic are in line with the trend we have seen from the sales statistics for fuel. For the period 2017–2019 it was experienced for the first time in history that the total sales of diesel and petrol in Norway fell three years in a row,” she says.

Ingrid Dahl Hovland of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration said in June when the preliminary statistics for 2020 were released, “Emissions are declining because more people are choosing to buy electric and hybrid cars and due to an increase in blending of biofuels. This shows that we are on the right track towards the goal that all new passenger cars will be zero-emission vehicles in 2025.”

Berge adds, “Now that the final figures are mainly confirmed, it is only to establish that the electrification works. And it is only to look forward to an even greater decline in emission figures from road traffic this year and in the years to come.”

Norway has shown what strong government policies can accomplish. Now it is up to the rest of the world to learn from Norway’s experience and craft equally strong policies of their own. The issue is not some intrinsic love of electric vehicles. The issue is that gasoline and diesel powered vehicles contribute a significant proportion of all greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions not only lead to an overheating planet but also make millions of people sick and shorten lifespans. They make our lives more convenient, that’s for sure, but at what cost?

Thanks to Are Hansen for sharing this Elbil story with us. 

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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