The Oslo car-free city centre project: a vision of Europe’s future?
A representation of the Norwegian state of mind
On the 19th of October, the newly elected Oslo city government’s coalition (Labour, Socialist and Green parties) announced its plan to ban private cars from the city centre by 2019. The area counts only 1 000 households, but represents a workplace for 90 000 citizens. The statement did not give any details around the measures which will be taken, increasing the concern of the local workers. It does specify the city’s aim to reduce its global automobile traffic by 20% by 2019, especially by promoting electric bicycles.
The general plan of the City council is to reduce 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (compared to 1990’s levels) and to become fossil free by 2030. In that vein, Oslo therefore is becoming the first capital city to divest fossil fuels, following the tone of the Norwegian Parliament, which assured the sell of over $ 8 billion of its coal investments (from the country Sovereign Wealth Fund). Norway is setting an interesting example, considering its oil producing nation status.
A future prospect for European capitals?
By committing to ban investments in coal, oil and gas companies, Oslo is joining a global movement of dozens of cities around the world, including San Francisco and Seattle in the US. But European cities are quite specific, because of the global trend which can be observed. Various plans, achievements or declarations have been made, and we can reasonably assume that more is coming.
Brussels has the largest pedestrian area in Europe, cumulating 50 of car-free hectares, and is continuing its expansion process. The particularly pedestrian-unfriendly Dublin revealed a car-free plan for the city centre for 2019. Madrid’s drivers have seen their access to the centre restricted via a fee system. And Paris’ mayor affirmed her wish to close a part of the northern bank of the Seine. An appreciated gesture coming from the host of the COP21, taking place in a couple of days now…