Nov 14, 2023
When it comes to imagining a world ruled by electric cars (EVs), the future is now in Norway. It's where nearly 9 out of 10 new cars sold are zero-emission cars. This figure is shockingly higher than the 13% sold in the European Union and the 7% in the US.
But the country is seeing that this future may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Many government perks have caused EV sales to explode in Norway. These include tax breaks, reduced road tolls, and free parking and ferry passes. But raised EV sales are leaving some problems unsolved. They're likely making new ones, too. Critics say these perks are hugely tilted to people who can afford EVs and that these cars don't reduce traffic clogs in cities.
Meanwhile, the government has done little to steer the public to other forms of travel, such as bikes or public transit. In fact, it’s cutting funding for buses. Transit advocates warn this choice could push public transit into a doom spiral.
And while EVs are preferred to vehicles powered by gas, they’re not environmentally perfect, experts say. They kick up dust pollution from asphalt roads. And their tires emit microplastics just like regular cars. Plus, they hike demand for limited materials such as lithium. They also produce emissions at each stage of the production process. Add to that, the looming waste problem of what to do with all of the worn-out EV batteries.
Seeing these problems, the government in the past year has cut or stopped some of these perks and tax breaks.
“The mistake is to think that EVs solve all your problems when it comes to transport,” Tiina Ruohonen, a climate adviser to Oslo’s mayor, told Vox. “They don’t."
Reflect: How might different forms of transportation impact our environment and daily lives in the future?
Photo from Unsplash courtesy of Michael Fousert.
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