The top city official in charge of transport and the environment decided late Tuesday to reverse a ban on diesel-driven vehicles into Oslo earlier than expected. The ban worked, she claimed, with air pollution levels in Oslo falling back down to acceptable levels.
Lan Marie Nguyen Berg of the Greens Party thanked all the motorists who left their diesel cars at home, many at great inconvenience to them.
“I want to first a foremost thank everyone who contributed today,” Berg said on state broadcaster NRK’s Dagsnytt Atten evening talk show. She was on the phone after a series of meetings at City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
She said the ban, which was supposed to run at least until 10pm and then expected to continue through Thursday, was lifted with immediate effect. That means there will be no restrictions on driving diesel cars on Wednesday and no police and highway department control posts like they were on Tuesday.
No drivers of diesel vehicles who were stopped on Tuesday were actually hit with the NOK 1,500 fine, though, that the city officials said they’d enforce for the first time. Motorists were instead told to park their cars and let off the hook in terms of getting an expensive traffic citation.
Traffic authorities said that Tuesday’s ban resulted in an immediate 10 percent reduction in the numbers of cars passing through toll plazas in and around Oslo. The numbers of diesel-driven vehicles dropped by 30 percent. The number wasn’t higher because all thru-traffic on state highways like the E6, E18 and RV4 were exempted from the ban.
Leonor Tarrason of the Norwegian institute monitoring air pollution said the diesel ban lowered exhaust and improved air quality. “It’s the diesel cars that that pollute the most,” Tarrason told NRK. “We don’t know how big a role the weather had played.” Some unexpected snow and rain fell on Oslo Tuesday, after several days of cold, still weather with very little breeze.