Oslo’s environment agency has just announced a major milestone – the city now has 50,000 pure electric vehicles, and together with Bergen, sits right at the top of the world in terms of the number of electric vehicles per capita.
The milestone was announced on Monday by Oslo Kommune, and reported by Norwegian media outlet VG. “Last Tuesday we registered 50,023 pure electric cars. That includes used imports of 175 EVs”, Sture Portvik, responsible for electric vehicles with Oslo Kommune, Portvik told VG. “There are still 250,000 passenger cars to be electrified before 2030”, said Portvik. It is a meaningful milestone in the context of Oslo’s progress towards its climate targets.
Oslo city has a near-zero emissions target for 2030. The city’s climate department publishes a quarterly ‘climate barometer’ report, and the latest update for Q1 2020 shows that new electric car sales within the city are hovering around 60%, with plug in hybrids accounting for another 16 per cent. Petrol and diesel account for just 15 per cent of new car sales.
And the share of fully electric vehiles in the city is around 18%:
For all of Norway, new vehicle sales are now dominated by electric vehicles – with the numbers tipping just over 50% in the first quarter, from the agency’s climate report for Q1 2020.
Electric vans too are beginning to dominate, shifting the electric vehicle transition into business and increasing focus on reliability. 23% of new van sales in the first quarter of 2020 were electric. These are noticeable changes, with electric vans being used by business becoming visibly more common.
Oslo is a city that is using short-term climate targets to drive long-term change. In October 2019, Oslo Kommune relesased 2020 emissions targets. These involve targets like the full decarbonisation of the entire city’s bus fleet, and the conversion of the entire city’s taxi fleet to electric by 2024.
“From what we can see from the Climate Budget for 2020, the emissions are on the way down and are expected to continue to fall in the future. At the same time, we have to strengthen the use of instruments moving ahead if we are to achieve the 95 percent emission reduction target in 2030”, said Heidi Sørensen, Director of the City of Oslo’s Climate Agency.
The 2030 target refers to emisisons that occur within the city’s bounds – this means road transport is a major factor, according to a recent update on climate strategy on the council’s website.
This is important context for milestones like those announced on Monday. A constant, keen awareness and a focus on both the extremely short and long term result in measurable changes that are reflected in the nature of the city. Air quality is one key immediate benefit from the increasing use of electric vehicles in Oslo, and will get better as we get closer to the 2030 target.
It would seem that coronavirus hasn’t put a dent in these trends, either. It will be important to keep up the pace in the future if Norway and Oslo’s 2030 goals are to be reached, but there is plenty of momentum, and the future is looking bright for the electrification and decarbonisation of transport in Norway.
Ketan Joshi has been at the forefront of clean energy for eight years, starting out as a data analyst working in wind energy, and expanding that knowledge base to community engagement, climate science and new energy technology. He writes for The Driven’s parent site, RenewEconomy, and has also written for the Guardian, The Monthly, ABC News and has penned several hundred blog posts digging into climate and energy issues, building a position as a respected and analytical energy commentator in Australia. He’s spoken at the Ethics Centre IQ2 debates on the need for urgent decarbonisation, he’s served as an subject matter expert on national television, and has a wide following on social media around energy and climate.