Norwegian motorists were angered this week when Oslo City Council instigated a temporary ban on diesel cars in the centre of the nation’s capital, in response to rising air pollution.

Announcing the news on Sunday night, the council said diesel cars would be banned in the city between 6 am and 10 pm until air pollution in the city cleared. This was expected to take at least two days following the commencement of the ban.

Diesel engines were once billed as a ‘green’ choice because it was believed they generated up to 20% less carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled than their petrol counterparts — in fact, Norwegian motorists were actively encouraged by authorities to purchase the vehicles in 2006 for this very reason.

However, diesel emissions have since been shown to produce other highly toxic pollutants — particularly nitrogen dioxide, which can be dangerous to children, the elderly and those suffering from respiratory problems.

“Studies show diesel exhaust contains air contaminants such as benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde, which have been linked to cancer by various studies,” said Herman Pihlträd, the chief operating officer of air purification company Blueair.

The diesel ban ultimately proved to be short-lived, being lifted on Tuesday evening after Norway’s Environment Department said there would be no danger of high-exhaust pollution over the city for Wednesday. Nevertheless, it does beg the question as to whether Oslo will instigate a more permanent solution in future, joining major cities such as Mexico City, Madrid, Paris and Athens that recently committed to banning diesel vehicles from their roads by 2025.

Extracted from Sustainability Matters.