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Oslo To Ban Private Cars From City Center By 2019

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 20/10/2015 Alexandra Ma
ATHENA IMAGE © Credit: JTB Photo/UIG/Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

Oslo, Norway, is getting serious about its fight against climate change.

Oslo's city council announced on Monday that it will completely ban private cars from its city center by 2019, as part of the country's larger goal to almost halve emissions by 2030, Agence France-Presse reports. This would be the first permanent ban on vehicles in any European capital, Oslo's city politicians added at the press conference, as reported by Reuters.

On Sunday, city government elections yielded huge victories for Oslo's more progressive parties -- especially the Green Party, which won 8.1 percent of the vote and is forming a new city government with the Labor Party and the Socialist Left. 

Although exact implementation details remain unclear, the city council plans to build at least 37 miles of bicycle lanes in the city by 2019. The city government will also increase its investments in buses and trams operating in the city center, and organize car services to transport goods and people with disabilities to and from stores, the Green, Labor and Socialist Left parties said Monday in a joint declaration.

"We want to have a car-free center," Green Party politician Lan Marie Nguyen Berg added. "We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists."

Road traffic is the largest source of air pollution in Norway. Many people use cars with studded tires during winter months, which emits up to 100 times more pollution than driving cars with regular tires, the Norwegian Environment Agency wrote last year. In March, Norway announced it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 1990 levels, by at least 40 percent by 2030.

Although Oslo will ban private cars from the city center only, the city may indeed see power emissions fall if the plan becomes a reality. Paris banned vehicles in 30 percent of the city for one day in September, but still managed to see a 40 percent drop in overall nitrogen dioxide emission levels that day, per data from Airparif, an air quality monitor in France.

On top of the car-free movement, the new city government has also proposed to divest the $9.3 million pension fund from fossil fuel companies, making it the first capital city in the world to do so. Oslo also plans to become completely fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

Separately, the European Union announced Tuesday that it has reduced emission levels by 4 percent in the past year, thereby surpassing its 2020 emissions target.

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