Norway: No Such Thing as a "Green" Car

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Reuters reports that Norway is banning manufacturers from advertising a car's green credentials. As far Norways's Department of Truth (a.k.a. Consumer Ombudsman) is concerned, "cars cannot do anything good for the environment except less damage than others." By that, state censor Bente Oeverli means that certain cars can be less harmful than others, but they're ALL bad for the planet. But don't try and claim your car is less harmful than the other guys, 'cause that's banned too. "If someone says their car is more 'green' or 'environmentally friendly' than others then they would have to be able to document it in every aspect from production, to emissions, to energy use, to recycling," she said. "In practice that can't be done." Meanwhile, in the UK, Volvo was told not to repeat a claim that the C30 car was "designed with the utmost respect for the environment in mind." Now that we can understand. Respect in mind? Tsk tsk.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Ashy Larry Ashy Larry on Sep 09, 2007

    Stein Leikanger: Sounds pretty reasonable to me. And Ash Larry should really have a look at his post again, it’s filled with logical fallacies. Norway has the world’s highest gasoline price, the world’s most expensive cars and the world’s lowest average speed limits — seems the authorities are trying to find a middle road between the need to drive cars and to drive them responsibly. Stein, I don't doubt thay have this goal in mind. In what can only be something Norwegians could do, they are using the luck of their rich natural resources to improve the world, whether through foreign aid (of which they are a massive contributor -- of course where that aid winds up is often an interesting story.....), social programs and environmental responsibility. And the word "green" is certainly abused by ad agencies, product companies, etc., and I don't criticize them for trying to gain control of exaggerated or unsubstantiated advertising claims -- hell, here in the US, a competitor is entitled to sue another competitor who makes baseless ads. But Bente's comments were a little too revealing of the underlying motive, which is that cars are inherently a bad thing for the environment. I was pointing a rich hypocrisy here. The only reason Norway has developed this nannying attitude is because it has been able to afford to do so thanks to all the oil and gas it sells to consumers and companies to operate those awful, terrible internal combustion engines. Really, thes *best* thing for the environment would be to simply sit on the oil and not sell it, ikke sant? But that exposes the problem here, which is that cars are an inherent global *good* (whatever their envornmental costs). They increase mobility and productivity, decrease the cost and time of transportation of goods and servcies. All the cars on the road in Norway today probably create more jobs and keep more food on the table than Norway ever could support with it's mostly agrarian economy pre-1972 (when oil was discovered off the North Sea) -- and they certainly have bumped the standard of living from the lowest tier of Western Europe (which is where Norway was before 1972) to the world-leading standard of living Norwegians now enjoy. Which somehow allows them to suffer the confiscatory gas taxes the govenment imposes upon their citizens to fund a trillion dollar oil slush fund. So there is a tension here, to be sure, between oil profiteering (from which Norway, as the third largest exporter of petroleum products int he world has benefited richly) and environmentalism on a hypertechnical scale.

  • Stein X Leikanger Stein X Leikanger on Sep 09, 2007

    @Ash Larry I'll agree with you on Norway's tendency to be both a nanny state and hypocritical. It's difficult to parse the immense activity in the North Sea, and its concurrent environmental impact, with the professions of a green consciousness by the government. And I'm still puzzled by the fact that I can't buy beer after six in the evening on a Saturday in stores filled with beer. Still, I think the Reuter's report is quite clear, and Mr. Farago's "ALL bad for the planet" comment was not Bente Øverli's words - her comment was within the context of the environment. I'm chuckling, as I find myself defending a nation I often criticize. As to whether Norway would have remained a bottom feeder among European nations without the oil, that particular point is a hobby horse of mine. Finland, Sweden and Denmark -- all Nordic nations -- all enjoy healthy top-of-the-world standards of living without having access to petroleum resources on Norway's scale. (Denmark does some extraction, but from much smaller reservoirs). According to social scientists and anthropologists, the Nordic nations enjoy beneficial preconditions that help fuel their wealth and welfare regardless of which main activity they involve themselves in. Which brings me to a joke. The Nordic nations decided to pool their talents, and let each focus on what it was best at. Which meant that the Finns would design products, the Swedes would manufacture them, and the Danes would sell them - to Norwegians.

  • 50merc 50merc on Sep 10, 2007

    No doubt about it; Norway is hypocritical to be so anti-automobile that it even nit-picks innocuous advertisements while it prospers as the Kuwait of Europe. The country is like a heroin pusher who feels good about himself because he's exercising more. Personally, I'm skeptical of the global warming hysteria, but Norway is a big promoter of the Kyoto treaty and it seems only fair to consider it as well as their customers guilty of increasing levels of so-called greenhouse gases. Norway is truly blessed, not only with oil, but by those "beneficial preconditions" Mr. Leikanger mentioned that helped build a tranquil society. The only unfortunate result of Norway's lack of domestic concerns is an increasing tilt to transnational progressivism (e.g., all nations should submit to the UN) and hyperactive oversight of everyday matters (e.g., people can't be trusted to withstand seductive phrases like "environmentally friendly"). The regulators won't be satisfied until advertisements look like those leaflets packed in boxes of medicine that warn, in microscopic print and words only a chemistry PhD can understand, about all conceivable side-effects and interactions.

  • Peter g Peter g on Sep 10, 2007

    Well; I agree with jerseydevil....Let's be honest about it: Cars aren't "green" any which way you put it. Guns are dangerous, smoking will kill you and so on. Claiming anything else is denial. Sorry...