Making the shift towards zero emission road transport.            The Norwegian experience

Tale holdt på Norwegian House i Brüssel den 5. mars 2015. (Sjekkes mot framføring)

Honourable Member of the European Parliament,

Dear Mr. Van Honacker, Senior expert in the European Commission,

Dear Ambassador, Distinguished guests


It is also my pleasure to welcome you to this event about the much needed shift towards zero emissions in the transport sector - with the Norwegian experience as a point of departure.  

It is encouraging to see that there is a growing focus on the role of transport in Europe’s path towards decarbonisation. 

Norway has the highest share of electric cars per capita in the world. 31 percent of the full electric vehicles sold in the European Union and EFTA in 2014 were sold in Norway. 

This development is to a great extent driven by policies. But also consumer choices and development of technologies have been important. 

The background for the Norwegian electric vehicle policy is the need to reduce CO2 emissions from the transport sector.  About 30 percent of the green house gas emissions in Norway come from this sector. 

To reach a low emission society by 2050 is an overarching goal for Norway. We have to combat global warming and reduce local air pollution. 

The sales numbers for full electric cars tripled from 2013 to 2014. Sales of hybrid electric cars increased more than fivefold. 

Almost 13 percent of all new cars sold in Norway in 2014 were full electric car. 

Ten years ago, we had the same generous policies for electric cars, but almost no sales.

The development within technology the last years has been extraordinary, and in no way foreseen. 

However, it shows that consistent policies are essential if we want to see a change in behavior. 

Our taxation system is designed to encourage consumers to make environmentally friendly choices.  

Norway has a fiscal purchasing tax for new cars. 

In 2007 this tax was made dependent on CO2 emissions. This has resulted in more environmental friendly consumer choices. 

The electric vehicles are exempt from VAT. They also benefit from other reduced taxes. 

In addition to the reduced taxes, they have benefits related to the usage. For example free public parking and free charging at public charging stations. 

The electric vehicles have also free access to the bus lanes and reduced fees on ferries. 

The local governments are -- in cooperation with the national government -- able to reduce or remove the user benefits if they are causing difficulties and inefficiencies. 

The political target in Norway is that growth in passenger transport in major urban areas should come through more public transport, biking and walking. 

If electric vehicles are filling up the bus lanes, the buses should be prioritized. 

Our government stands firm. We have decided to continue the benefits scheme for zero emission cars also in 2015.  Low emission cars have large environmental benefits.   We are also working with a comprehensive review of the vehicle taxes. 

In order to nudge the consumer choice towards electric vehicles, car manufacturers must develop new technology. 

We are grateful to consumers and manufacturers that are taking on the risk of the new technology. 

The infrastructure for fossil cars has been built up over hundred years. The infrastructure for new technologies is only in its beginning. 

Norway is currently getting valuable experience on how to handle a large scale rollout of electric cars. 

We see valuable private initiatives taking place to build charging stations -- in addition to the support provided by the government. 

One example is the collaboration between Nissan and Kiwi grocery stores where Nissan has taken a private initiative to build charging stations outside the stores.

It is important to create markets where innovation and development of new technologies can take place. The private sector plays an important role in creating these markets.

Electric cars are criticized for using electricity produced from fossil energy. But a decarbonisation of the transport sector takes time. 

It does not make sense to wait until the power sector is 100 percent clean before introducing electric vehicles. The power sector is changing fast, and almost all new electricity production in Europe is renewable. 

Introduction of electric cars should go alongside with the rapid deployment of renewable energy in the power sector.

However, the overarching emission trading system leaves no doubt: The future for Europe will be sustainable.  It will leave little room for harmful greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. 

The Energiewende is a sign of great political will, and has made renewable energy more competitive compared to fossil fuels. Hopefully we will see a similar Transportwende

The Norwegian government is proud to be a pioneer of renewable technology use and development in the transport sector. 

As governments, we can do many things to direct our businesses onto a more sustainable path. 

The private sector can then develop and provide the solutions that will be preferred by tomorrow’s customers.

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