Norway Lead the Electric Car Movement but do They Lead the Sustainability Movement?
With a population of just over five million people and located in the far north of Europe, Norway is possibly a country that doesn’t feature too highly on most people’s agendas. However, many are starting to take notice of Norway’s world leading adoption rates of electric vehicles.
In March of 2019, electric vehicles accounted for an almost staggering 60% of total new car sales, where the Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 were the most popular car choices.
Meanwhile, in the USA, electric vehicle sales only account for roughly 5% of new car sales. Even worse is Australia; only 0.3% of new car sales in 2018 were for electric vehicles.
So with this in mind, what factors have actually caused Norway to adopt electric vehicles at unprecedented rates nationwide.
Norway is predominantly powered by hydropower, a clean renewable energy source held in abundance. Having hydropower to power your electric vehicle is much cleaner in comparison to say coal, currently the preferred power source in Australia. There’s not much point to powering your car with coal generated electricity, as the environmental effects are possibly just as adverse as petrol vehicles. Therefore, shifting a nation’s electricity generation to more renewable sources is vital before making the move to electricity heavy products.
Renewable sourced energy is important as is the need to have the sufficient infrastructure in place to accommodate an increased demand in electricity. A prime example is Norway’s neighbour Sweden who have experienced serious teething problems in their transition to electric vehicles. Up until recently, they were very much a front runner in electric vehicle adoption rates, even surpassing that of Norway. Once adoption reached a certain stage however, their power grid could not handle the extra demand for electricity, limiting the ability for electric car adoption to increase. It had even forced electric car owners to only charge their car in off-peak time periods while the government also incentivised the return of electricity to the grid in high-peak times as well. If the country doesn’t have the infrastructure, the shift to electric vehicles is a tough mountain to climb.
Norway’s government have forced the adoption of electric powered vehicles by pushing up the prices of petrol and diesel powered vehicles while lowering the cost of electric vehicles. This has occurred to the point that electric vehicles are now the cheapest option available in Norway. There are even additional perks of becoming an electric car owner. Electric cars have permission to use bus lanes, incur much lower road taxes and even receive free parking in many districts. If they aren’t good enough incentives for someone to purchase an electric vehicle, what is?
Becoming a global leader in renewable energy and electric vehicle adoption has not come without its cost. Interestingly, Norway also happen to be one of the largest exporters of oil in the world. Oil and gas exports are estimated to account for 17% of their annual GDP and would most definitely be providing valuable funding toward their sustainable movement back home.
A number this large creates quite the contradiction to their clean green policies back home.
While it is true that oil and gas remain an important part of our society, to become a true leader in climate policy, Norway must gradually divest their interests in oil exports in order to aid the global reduction of carbon dioxide emissions which they are currently fuelling. If they are able to do this, then it will be time to consider them as a true leader in global sustainability.