Oslo Offers Model For Cities Looking to Reduce Emissions

Oslo Offers Model For Cities Looking to Reduce Emissions

Norway’s capital city Oslo has one of the most ambitious climate targets out there, which is reducing its emissions by 95% by 2030 compared to 2009 levels. To accomplish this, the city is using carbon budgeting -- annually taking into account the climate-damaging emissions from each city department -- to make decisions about reductions while considering all aspects of urban life. Cemeteries, waste management, and public transit are all part of its comprehensive strategy.

"Look at Oslo, and you can begin to see what life will look like in a city that’s serious about its obligations to the future,” the New Yorker writes. Other cities worldwide, including Mumbai, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro are also initiating carbon budgeting pilots.

IPCC: Climate Change explained | Carbon Budget, November 10, 2021.

ICOS RI: ICOS Cities Talks | Oslo's climate budget - a tool to achieve ambitious climate goals, November 24, 2021.

Why This Matters

Oslo’s approach of making the rapid reduction of emissions a city-wide project is working at the speed and scale needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. This is largely because it doesn’t bank on a single solution, but incorporates change into all aspects of city life, like making a zero-emission construction site run with electric machines. And because it’s implemented through city-level policy, it’s more nimble and responsive than national-level changes while still having a large impact. In Oslo, emissions have already dropped 16% from 2009 to 2019.

Euronews: COP26 | What is the 'carbon budget' and what is its role in fighting climate change?, November 2, 2021.

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research: Carbon Budget 2021, November 3, 2021.

Solving The Car Problem

Private cars and vans are one of the three biggest sources of carbon pollution in Oslo, which tracks with many other cities worldwide. Cars are the second-largest source of pollution in Europe, and SUVs cause more pollution worldwide than all of Germany.

In Oslo, private vehicles create a larger percentage of emissions at 33% than waste incineration and energy supply does at 23%. Currently, non-electric vehicles are charged more to drive into the city and park, but soon they won’t be allowed at all in the city’s emission-free zones. These strategies are in line with a recent analysis in Case Studies on Transport Policy that identified the best ways to get cars out of European cities. Other options include congestion charges, which the study showed reduced congestion by 12% to 33%, require cars to pay when they enter the city center. Further, collected funds go toward sustainable transportation, one of the most effective measures to reduce emissions for an even greater win-win.

Reuters: 2021 saw jump in greenhouse-gas emissions, says report, January 10, 2022.