The newly elected Oslo city council, made up of representatives from the Labor Party, the Greens and the Socialist Left, have announced a plan to ban cars from central Oslo by 2019, the date of the next municipal elections. The plan is part of a platform focused on environmental issues and the challenges of climate change.
The plan, according to a Reuters, includes the development of 60 kilometers of bicycle lanes and a “massive boost” of investment in public transport. Buses and trams in the city center will be supplemented by vehicles, which may include autos, to serve the disabled and for transporting goods to retail locations.
“We want to have a car-free center,” Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for the Green Party in Oslo, told reporters. “We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone.”
The auto-ban is part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). The plan also includes fossil fuel divestment from city pension plans and subsidizing of electric bicycles purchases. Oslo becomes the first capital in the world to join the fossil fuel divestment movement, joining 40 other cities around the world that have already made the commitment. The change affects only about $7m of coal investments, but it is an important symbolic move.
“We pull ourselves out of coal companies, because electricity generated from coal is one of the most harmful substances contained in the energy sector. We want to use our interest to promote more environmentally friendly energy and a more environmentally friendly society,” said finance commissioner, Eirik Lae Solberg.
The move is part of the fast-growing climate change campaign being promoted by GSNs including gofossilfree.org, 350.org, and others, that has already caused 180 institutions to divest over $50 billion from fossil fuel investments. In February there was a demonstration in Oslo demanding the move, and the GSN campaign group Framtiden i våre hender said, “This is a victory for our hard work, and sends a strong signal to the government that is currently reviewing the investments of the national oil fund. We will regard it as poor leadership if the government choose to take a less powerful stand than Oslo when deciding their own strategy for a sustainable future.”
Jill Rundle, Editor, Global Solution Networks