Oslo's city council unveiled a plan Monday to ban private cars from its downtown area by 2019 in attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The car-free proposal for the city center plays into a larger plan to cut emissions rates 50 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and will make the Norwegian city the first European capital to introduce a permanent ban, Agence France-Presse reported.
The ban faces opposition from business owners, but the city council said the plan will benefit all citizens and should not be a concern. At least 11 of the city's 57 shopping centers will be zoned as car-free, but the council plans to reduce car traffic all over the capital by 20 percent by 2019 and 30 percent by 2030. The city council has not stated how the plan will be implemented.
"We want to have a car-free center," Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for the Green Party in Oslo, told reporters. "We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone."
Other plans involved in Oslo's goal include adding more bicycle lanes and subsidizing the price of electric bicycles.
"In 2030, there will still be people driving cars but they must be zero-emissions," Nguyen Berg said.
Environmentalist group Future in Our Hands commended the city council's move. "We are very happy to see that, some weeks ahead of the [U.N. climate] summit in Paris, the new Oslo municipal council is taking a courageous decision and becoming the first capital in the world to choose to pull out of fossil fuels," said Arild Hermstad, head of Future in Our Hands. "It's a strong symbol when the capital of an oil-producing nation says it won't invest in fossil fuels."
The new city authorities also plan to divest fossil fuels from their pension funds.