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Oslo to have all-electric public transport by 2030

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Oslo is on track to break records with an all-electric public transport system, part of its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2030.

  • Oslo intends to become the world’s first capital city with an all-electric public transport system.
  • Road transport accounts for 47% of the city’s current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • The city’s climate budget is driving its planning, and could serve as a model for other capitals.

Oslo’s climate strategy is more ambitious than Norway’s nationwide plan. The city is focusing on reducing the carbon footprint of public transport, as together with heavy-duty transport it accounts for nearly 70% of its emissions. Oslo has allocated 50% of its budget to building and upgrading its electric vehicle charging network.

First introduced in 2016, the climate budget has become a governance tool for city planning, putting climate goals at the centre of financial decisions. It is fully integrated into the municipal financial budget and puts climate goals at the centre of city planning and financial spending plans.

Hailed as a pioneering approach to tackling climate change, Oslo’s climate budget could serve as a model for other global capital cities to follow. 

Oslo’s climate strategy drives all-electric public transport ambition

Oslo has established five targets in its climate strategy. Its ambition is to reduce its GHG emissions by 95% by 2030 compared to 2009 levels, and also to reduce energy consumption by 10%.

The city believes achieving these goals will make a significant contribution to Norway’s commitments, which call for a 55% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.

Road transport accounts for 47% of the city’s emissions today. Other mobile combustion, for example from off-road vehicles, adds a further 20% to Oslo’s emissions. To tackle this, the city aims for all of its public transport to have zero emissions by 2028, while also driving emissions from heavy-duty transport to zero by 2030.

The city also plans to make port operations and traffic on the Oslofjord virtually emissions free. Most of the ferries that operate on the Oslofjord, a waterway serving Oslo, have already been converted to electric power.

The climate budget is a governance tool

Oslo’s ability to achieve the full electrification of its public transport goes beyond financial investment. According to officials, the climate budget serves as a governance tool for achieving the targets in its climate strategy. 

Of the NOK337 billion total planned investments in the current plan, 50% has been allocated to developing an electric vehicle charging network. An average 25% of annual operating expenses will be spent on the electrification of public transport services.

The climate budget, however, goes beyond detailing the city’s financial spending plans. The current budget covering the 2022-2025 period also specifies how targets will be achieved, and the entities responsible for achieving them. 

Setting an example for others to follow

Oslo’s climate budget has been hailed as a pioneering approach to tackling climate change by the EU. The first climate budget was adopted in 2016, with an aim to reduce emissions by 36% by 2020.

The approach appears to be working: Oslo’s GHG emissions dropped 20% year-on-year in 2021. They have also declined 85% since 2012, largely due to the phase-out of oil-fired boilers, the use of fossil-free construction machinery and via electrification of the city’s car fleet.

Electrification itself will require heavy investment in infrastructure. To that end, the city has direct and indirect stakes in energy companies that provide energy to it.

These include Hafslund, Fortum Oslo Varme and Elvia. Further investments in the transmission grid, however, will still be necessary to meet the city’s lofty ambitions.

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