Recently released figures and a confluence of policies and momentum have revealed that Norway is expected to reach its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets – the first time the country has ever managed to get even close.
And, according to the Norwegian Electric Car Association, electric vehicles will have played a significant role in achieving the country’s 2020 target.
NECA tooted their country’s horn on Monday in a blog post on their website noting that the share of electric cars on Norway’s roads reached more than 10% of the total fleet in April, and there is now a discernible impact being seen on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and fuel sales.
Diesel and gasoline sales declined for the third year in a row in 2019, a three-year decline greater than the combined declines of the 1974 oil crisis, the 1987 stock market crash, and the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
Norway’s gasoline and diesel sales have, unsurprisingly, been steadily rising since petroleum statistics began back in 1952. The only times in which this pattern has been interrupted has been during the aforementioned crises:
- The decline during the 1974 oil crisis: -157 million litres
- The decline after the stock market crash in 1988 and 1989: -7 and -21 million litres
- The decline after the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009: -45 and -91 million litres
In total, these three crises saw a decline of 321 million litres.
However, over the last three years, with no obvious crisis to blame, gasoline and diesel sales have fallen by a total of 336 million litres.
“These are inspirational figures that show that Norway’s electric car policy has started to give us tangible results,” said Unni Berge, communications manager at the Norwegian Electric Car Association.
Norway has lived in a bit of a paradox, with an extremely low greenhouse gas emissions power grid – relying almost entirely on hydroelectricity, with some wind and gas generation filling in the gaps – but extremely high levels of CO2 extracted per capita due to its position as a leader in the extraction and sale of fossil fuels.
At the same time that Norway’s increasing number of electric vehicles is having an impact on the country’s fuel sales, figures published by Norway’s largest printed newspaper, Aftenposten, show that Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.4% in 2019 year-over-year, dropping to its lowest level in 27 years.
Further, Aftenposten expects that, if the trend continues in 2020, Norway’s emissions will fall by another 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, dropping to 48.6 million tonnes, meaning that Norway would reach its 2020 greenhouse gas emission target legislated by The Storting, Norway’s supreme legislature.
If things turn out in 2020 as expected, it would be the first time has ever met its own climate targets.
“The measures have been many, but it takes time before it loosens up,” explained Norwegian Environment Minister, Sveinung Rotevatn, referring to the many investments and policy measures that have been put in place over the last few years. “Though the electric car benefits have, for example, been there for a while, it still takes some time for people to change car.”
“The biggest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions comes from the transport sector and is due to reduced fossil fuel sales, increased number of electric cars, increased public transport, and biofuels interference,” added research leader Steffen Kallbekken at the Cicero Climate Research Center.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.