While the US is only now warming up to the idea of electric cars and other eco-friendly modes of transportation, Norway is whole-heartedly embracing them. According to pending legislation, it might become the first country to actually ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles in its aim to reach zero vehicle emissions by 2025.
The ambitious plan has so far been agreed upon by four of Norway’s political parties, in hopes of decreasing the country’s emissions. But it's important to note that the legislation hasn’t been finalised yet, and so far, there's no word on when it might become law.
The irony in all of this is that Norway is actually a giant oil and natural gas producer. In fact, the sale of these resources accounted for roughly 39 percent of the country’s exports in 2015, Bruce Brown reports for Digital Trends.
Though Norway’s potential new law would act as a guide for other developed countries to reduce their own carbon footprints, going from gas to electric isn’t nearly as big a deal in Norway as it would be for countries like the US.
Last year, a mere 150,000 new cars were sold in Norway, compared to the record-setting 17.5 million in the US, which experts say was the result of low gas prices, low interest rates, and a spike in employment.
While the population difference between Norway and the US can in part explain this gap in sales, it’s safe to say that Americans have a much bigger love affair with their cars. In fact, when compared to other European countries, Norway still rank at the bottom of the list in terms of auto sales, according to Phil LeBeau from CNBC.
Plus, 18.7 percent of Norway’s new cars are electric, and the country has one of the highest populations of cyclists in the world - big enough that the government is spending $923 million to create new bike highways to usher riders around cities.
Norway isn’t a stranger to this type of plan, either. As we reported last year, Oslo, Norway’s capital city, plans to ban private cars outright from the city centre by 2019, though this move is less about emissions and more about creating a very walkable, enjoyable downtown environment for citizens because no one likes dodging moving cars all of the time or listening to them when you’re sitting at a café.
While the ambitious plan is definitely exciting for environmentalists, no one seems more pumped about the idea than Tesla CEO and everybody’s favourite outside-of-the-box thinker Elon Musk.
Musk tweeted an image of the country’s Dagens Næringsliv, a business newspaper, with the headline: "Stop sales of diesel and gasoline vehicles in 2025."
Just heard that Norway will ban new sales of fuel cars in 2025. What an amazingly awesome country. You guys rock!! pic.twitter.com/uAXuBkDYuR— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 3, 2016
Not much else is known about Norway’s plans, such as how it would roll out the legislation, or if there are any stipulations involving the gas-powered cars that are already inside the country.
But since 2025 is still far off, they still have some time to work things out - if the law is passed at all. Watch this space.