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Because the 'Time for Climate Action Is Now,' Oslo Makes Landmark Move to Ban Cars


#1

Because the 'Time for Climate Action Is Now,' Oslo Makes Landmark Move to Ban Cars

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

As part of a plan to rein in carbon emissions, Oslo's new city council announced this week that the city's center would be car-free by 2019.

Ars Technica reports that the move, which aims to help the city halve greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels, "will make Oslo the first European capital where cars are permanently banned, plus it's a strong indicator that similar bans may be enacted in other major cities across the continent."


#2

I'm comforted by the thought that, there is a place in this planet, where homo sapiens is capable of doing what makes sense.


#3

Actually you get the sense that many people are thinking about climate change and willing to do a lot more than we are about it. We are told by our right wing media that people don't want to do much about switching off carbon producing fuels. Well maybe people are a lot more willing to band together for the greater good than we are told. What is wrong with us? We should be turning cities like Vegas and Los Angeles into solar powered 'bright spots' in the fight against climate change. The whole southwest should run on solar all day long. The plains run on Wind Turbines, the coastal cities use tidal generators. Yet we don't.

Most American cities could use a ban on cars in their downtowns too.


#4

The influence of mega-corporations on public policy and on the media tends to be less than it is in the U.S.. Many of them stand to have reduced profits from the required massive shift in the global economy away from fossil fuels and away from gratuitous waste of energy resources so it makes sense that they would do whatever is in their power (and they alot of it!) to prevent or delay this shift and to resist any constraints put on their power.

Another aspect of this is the commonly-held assumption that the U.S. was founded on capitalism and any restraints put on capitalism are somehow UnAmerican. The reality is that the US was a rural nation in 1775 and capitalism was not part of the national paradigm or national identity.


#5

True enough, America has privatized its democracy. Fascism is buying it at cut rate sale prices.

Typically no one who is making money doing nothing new wants to change that. Fiscal inertia resists change until it risks losing money. That is why divestment is so effective. Companies see profit generation moving to alternatives and away from fossil fuel. First coal then oil then gas. They aren't loyal to fossil fuels but just loyal to the profits that can still be made by keeping things as they are. As that changes, they change. Cities stop buying coal, they close the mines etc.


#6

Well, I'm no defender of corporate but the reality is that they can sued by shareholders if they willfully take any actions that reduce profits. Corporations exists solely to make a profit. The problem is fear of litigation as well as loss of profit. Because our democracy has been "privatized", as you say, we have wait until it's in the economic interests of the 1% to change tactis ... as soon as there's momentum for the new green economy, political pressure from mega-corporations will be to promote and give tax breaks to green technology.

Yeah, as you say, hurting the profit margins by divestment is one of the few tools that we have to accelerate a change of tactic by the corporations. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has repeatedly said that without the international divestment from South Africa, the apartheid regime would have lasted decades longer than it did.

We can only hope that change won't come too late.


#7

I think public opinion is another extremely valuable tool. Negative public opinion kept Shell out of the Arctic. Or rather it was fear of a negative backlash at the pumps that did. I think people all started avoiding Shell gas stations without anyone asking them too and Shell saw that only getting worse as soon as there was any kind of accident.


#9

There is a street in my city, in the now-gone produce market district - that still has all sorts of small ethnic grocery shops and the cafes, sidewalk vendors and the like. The narrow sidewalks get overwhelmed with shoppers on weekends and closing this street (Penn Avenue, Strip District) on weekends is a positive no-brainier. The adjoining street a short block away would more than handle all the traffic. Yet the city refuses to do it. So I have been looking for the necessary barricades and "road closed" signs for doing a "guerrilla street closure" operation - it's a one-way street which makes it particularly easy to do...


#10

But you're watching corporate media --
what do you think they're going to tell you?

This is why the public is so excited about Bernie and Pope Francis and their liberal leadership on these very important issues -- Global Warming, Wars, MIC, Manifest Destiny and the license to exploit Nature, Natural Resources, Animal-life.

This is a liberal nation and we have been denied liberal leadership --
the will of the people is being ignored by our corrupted government.


#12

It is ironical that this move to limit the contribution to climate change (and ocean acidification and warming) also has other beneficial effects. No doubt the beneficial effect on the health of the population by reduction in the toxic fumes from car exhausts was also taken into account. As was the impact of bike riding being more healthy than riding in cars. But future residents of Oslo (and elsewhere) will bless the foresight that reduced the dependence on cars before their inevitable demise due to the declining availability of the liquid fuel obtained from the oil that is getting beyond reach despite desperate efforts, such as fracking, by an industry striving hard to continue to profit by providing something that is doing so much harm to the environment.


#15

Maybe but they don't usually stop so quickly after investing so much. I think they looked at the blowback in reduced sales at the pump and calculated that plus all the bad press drilling up in the arctic was producing and said it was a losing proposition and likely to turn even more people into anti-fossil fuel activists in the long run.


#16

#17

Let's just hope that they will actually do it! But I am hopeful. The Scandinavians have shown in the past that they are more progressive than other parts of the world. Banning cars could be done almost in all cities in the world at least in the ones I have visited and that's quite a few in different continents....Even in the US it could be done rather easily.


#19

Sorry Norway, and Common Dreams, but Coventry, which was bombed out by the Luftwaffe, was rebuilt with a car-free CBD after the end of World War 2. As usual, we Brits did it first. Pity we didn't keep up the good work and went stupid with USAian style motorways (freeways/autobahns/autostradas..............). And it's a pity that Asia has gone ape over the motor-car and has been repeating the same mistakes for the last 35 years. Thais would rather suffocate in Carbon Monoxide than walk or ride a bicycle and the same may be said for the Chinese.


#20

Las Vegas should be bulldozed into the ground. It is a non-productive city built in a desert and needs a lot of water and thus represents a complete lack of intelligence. As for Los Angeles..........! A giant conurbation built on a once very fertile plain; surely there was/is a better way of housing people?


#21

South America? Sensibilities? Sao Paulo? De-forestation of the Amazon?


#22

The Scandinavians, even in the midst of the global assault on human living standards by Capital, still represent the highest standards of social well-being. It is glaringly obvious that cars and trucks need to be brought under severe control in large areas of cities worldwide. This would benefit both residents of inner city neighborhoods and much of the commercial districts, particularly retail trade areas, where foot traffic often brings increased business. This is now more likely to happen, after the gentrification of many of the surviving older neighborhoods in cities, as the "stakeholders" have changed from the powerless poor and working class to real estate moguls and upper middle class professionals.

Many struggles have already taken place over cars and urban areas. When pedestrianized business streets were first established in European cities the merchants were opposed thinking they would lose business if they lost on street traffic and parking; in contrast business greatly increased and storefronts on pedestrianized streets became prime locations. Of course European cities all have significant mass transit systems and shoppers and strollers can easily get to those pedestrianized streets. In the U.S., in contrast, an abortive movement to limit traffic on Main Streets largely failed because there was little or no public transportation.

Cars are unbeatable in rural areas, but get worse and worse as density increases. American cities tend to be relatively low density, though older cities in the East have large high density areas. Unfortunately, the approach in many American cities is to mix cars, cyclists, and pedestrians and depend on courtesy and "share the road" campaign. U.S. and Canadian cities usually have extensive side street networks that could serve as the basis of viable bike route systems (local cyclists always know how to use such networks). But the general trend remains to paint lines on different types of more heavily traveled streets and mix vehicles and bikes.


#23

I live in Ecuador and am Ecuadorian.
this would be a fantastic way to guide our urban development/re-development that many of our small cities are initiating. let's hope.. will present.... i do have a hearing coming up in city hall in my small seaside fishing village, result of our opposition to a planned "parking lot?" in the midst of one of the few un-tampered-with historic residential neighborhoods. thank you staff writer. less cars everywhere would be an important accomplishment.


#26

What a peculiar comment.