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Friday, February 23, 2024

Diesel debate in high gear

Government officials are considering a string of proposals to improve air quality by restricting automobile use, and one of them has sparked especially heated debate: Prohibiting use of diesel vehicles on days of heavy pollution.

It was just four years ago that the left-center government still in power made diesel vehicles more attractive by altering some of the taxes on them. Now motorists who followed the government’s incentives at the time may be prevented from driving their diesel cars into Oslo, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) this week.

The government is formulating various measures that municipal governments can take in use to help reduce air pollution. The proposal against use of diesel vehicles, which Oslo officials may impose, is getting a lot of opposition.

Diesel owners call the proposal “ridiculous” or worse but it may pass enough political hurdles to be approved. Other proposals include “date driving,” where cars with odd- or even-numbered license plate would face entry restrictions into Oslo on alternating days; prohibiting use of cars with only one person in them; and preventing heavy trucks from driving through Oslo.

Erik Solheim, minister of the environment, said he “could understand” that diesel vehicle owners were upset, since they’d recently been encouraged to buy diesel cars as a means of cutting carbon emissions. He admits the government miscalculated the problems with local air pollution, and hadn’t expected so many Norwegians to buy diesel.

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