A ban will go into effect Thursday, in Oslo, Norway, that will keep diesel cars off the roads for two days, as part of an attempt to stem rising air pollution. The ban has angered motorists, who were urged to buy diesel cars just a few years ago. The ban will apply to municipal roads, but not to the national larger national roadways through the city. Violation of the ban will result in a 1,500 kroner fine, equivalent to £174.
While the city council, made up of Labour and Green party members, agreed in principle to such a measure in February of last year, this is the first time such a ban has been implemented.
Diesel vehicles emit less CO2 than other cars, but more nitrous dioxide. City councilor Lan Marie Nguyen Berg said “In Oslo, we can’t ask children, the elderly, and those suffering from respiratory problems to remain holed up at home because the air is too dangerous to breathe.”
However, the ban has angered some drivers, after a 2006 campaign urged motorists to buy diesel vehicles – then considered a more environmentally friendly choice than petroleum fueled cars. Motorists complained on the Facebook page of the newspaper Verdens Gang. Mazyar Keshvari, MP from the right-wing populist Progress Party, suggested that drivers should demand compensation.
Speaking to the broadcaster TV2, he said:
“The biggest swindle of Norwegian motorists has now become a reality. This was part of the red-green government’s ingenious climate measures. Not only did they recommend motorists to buy diesel cars, they also changed the taxes to make them less expensive. That led a lot of people buying a car that they can’t use now.”
Other’s took a broader view, in favor of the ban. Kenneth Tempel wrote on the Verdens Gang Facebook page:
“Very good measure. We should introduce a permanent ban on diesel in all big cities. The fines should also be doubled.”
Air pollution leads to 185 premature deaths in Oslo annually, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. In 2014, the EU began formal proceedings to cite Norway for a harmful level of particulate matter in the air that violated the limits of the EU air quality directive. The EFTA surveillance authority found excessive levels of three types of air pollution – including nitrogen dioxide, the substance released in high levels by diesel vehicles.