Selected indicators for the transport and communication sector

Transport and environment in Norway and Europe


Last year Statistics Norway prepared a report on transport and environment indicators . Norwegian data were, whenever possible, compared to the indicators defined in the EU TERM project (Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism) or with other international data. This article summarises important features in the report which was commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Figure 1. Road freight transport in selected countries. 1999 og 2003. Million tonne-kilometres

Transport and communication is an essential service in a modern society like Norway. Transport is dependent on a considerable infrastructure such as roads, rails, airports and quays. Transport activities also represent substantial environmental pressures, such as direct physical impacts on nature, and emissions of a number of polluting substances.

Development in transport demand

Freight transport

In spite of governments' ambitions regarding better use of intermodal transportation, all international statistics show that road freight transport continues to increase both in terms of volume and as part of the total transport. There are only a small number of countries in Europe where road freight transport demand has gone down during the period 1999-2003. The growth in road freight transport demand was higher in Norway than in the other Nordic countries. While the demand in Norway increased 15.2 per cent from 1999 to 2003, the increase in both Finland and Denmark was only about 5 per cent while Sweden showed no change during the period (see figure 1).

Figure 2. Number of passenger kilometres per capita per day in selected countries

Passenger transport

In 2001, the highest passenger transport demand, measured as passenger-kilometres, was found in France. In this country, we also find the longest daily per capita distance driven with passenger cars, 34 km per day. Norway was not far behind with a distance of 30.5 km per day. The other Nordic countries had a somewhat shorter daily driving distance per capita (see figure 2).

Netherlands is among the European countries with the shortest daily per capita driving distance with passenger cars. However, if we look at public transport, the Dutch travelled on average 17 km per day. In Norway, the travelling distance per person using bus, train and airplane is among the shortest in Europe, with the average slightly under a total of 7 km per day for these three types of transportation. When comparing the extent of the use of public transport with the use of passenger cars, one finds that Norway has one of the lowest fractions of public transport with a little over 18 per cent.

Vehicle fleet and infrastructure

Numbers and type of car

There were 142 600 registered motor vehicles in Norway as of 31 December 1950. 45 per cent of these vehicles, or 65 000, were passenger cars. By the end of 2004 the same vehicle fleet had increased to around 2.8 million, of which nearly 2 million vehicles, or about 72 per cent, were passenger cars (see figure 3 and 4). Of these, 257 000 cars had diesel engines and 1 721 000 had gasoline engines. In the period 2000-2004 the number of passenger cars with diesel engines has nearly doubled.

Figure 3. Registered motor vehicles per 31 December 1950 and 2004, by type of vehicle. Norway

Figure 4. Number of vehicles in Norway, 1950-2004

Figure 5. Number of passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants in selected countries. 1990 and 2003

Figure 6. Number of passenger cars per 31 December 2000. Percentages by age groups. Selected countries

At the end of 2003 there were 45.0 million passenger cars in Germany and 34.3 million in Italy. The number of passenger cars was lowest in Norway and Denmark with 1.89 and 1.93 million vehicles, respectively. In Italy, there were over 600 cars per 1 000 inhabitants by the end of 2003. In Norway there were slightly over 400 (see figure 5). During the period 1990-2003, the growth of passenger cars, calculated as number of cars per inhabitant, was the lowest in the Nordic countries when compared with other European countries.

Norway has a very low proportion of new cars (1-2 years), but both Sweden and Finland have a larger proportion of older cars (> 10 years old) (see figure 6). By the end of 2004 the average age of passenger cars in Norway was 10.5 years. Oppland is the county with the highest average age for passenger cars in Norway. Passenger cars in this county were 12 years old on average. Cars in Oslo have the lowest average age, 8.7 years.


The length of public roads in Norway 1 s t January 2005 is 92 500 km. The length has more than doubled since 1950 (see figure 7). In addition there are 74 400 km of private roads. In Norway there are around 200 km of motorways, clearly the least among the Nordic countries.

The length of railways in Norway is approximately 4 000 km. There are no high-speed lines in Norway. Not even the Gardermoen Airport Express Train with a maximum speed of 210 km/h falls into this category.

Figure 7. Length of public roads in Norway. km

Figure 8. Per cent of land area covered by transport infrastructure. Norway 2004 and EU-15 1998

In 2005, the total land area covered by roads, railways and airports was 1 797 km 2 . Compared with most other European countries, this is a lower proportion of total land area, but it is higher than in Sweden and Spain (see figure 8).


The prices of different transport services are important factors when individuals and enterprises choose different types of transportation. The prices influence the growth and distribution between the different types of transportation.

In Norway, the prices of all types of passenger transport increased more from 1990 than the increase in prices observed in the consumer price index (see figure 9). This general trend is also observed in EU-15.

Figure 10. Prices of gasoline and diesel in Norway. 1978-2004. NOK per litre, constant 1998-prices

Figure 9. Price development of domestic passenger transport 1979-2004. Norway. Index, 1990=100

Gasoline prices in Norway in the first half of the 1980s were high. After that period there was a reduction in prices which was then followed by an increase during the 1990s with a maximum price reached in 2000. During 2001 and 2002 the prices went down, only to increase again during 2003 and 2004 (see figure 10). A similar trend is also observed for the EU countries (EU-15) as a whole. In the autumn of 2005 there was a strong increase in both the gasoline and diesel prices in Norway.

The National Transport Plan 2006-2015 points out that the main purpose of several of the transport related taxes and fees is to secure income to the Government, and consequently are parts of the ordinary tax policy. Some of the taxes, e.g. the CO 2 tax, shall give incentives to producers and users of transport services to take environmental and other sensible social transport choices. Fuel taxes are responsible for a major portion of the price of gasoline and diesel. At the beginning of 2005, fuel taxes counted for 64 per cent of the price of gasoline. If the fuel tax rate is adjusted for the general increase in prices as measured by the consumer price index, then the fuel tax rate is lower in 2005 than in 1995 for both gasoline and diesel.

Investments in roads, railways, airports, etc., i.e. transport infrastructure, are dominated by road transport investments in both Norway and in Europe (EU-15).

Figure 11. Daily travels by main mode of transport. Norway. 1998 and 2001. Per cent

Travel habits

The Norwegian Travel Survey made by the Institute of Transport Economics shows that from 1985 to 1998 there was an increase in the use of cars for daily travels with a corresponding reduction in the use of other forms of transport. In the three years following (1999-2001) the proportion of car trips has stabilized. Trips made as car drivers accounted for over half of all daily trips in 2001, and 12 per cent were as car passenger (see figure 11).

Travelling with public transportation accounted for 9 per cent of the population's daily travels in both 1998 and 2001. Buses are the most common form of public transport, and in 2001, about 60 per cent of public transport was by bus.

Figure 12. Total energy consumption for transport purposes 1990-2001. Index, 1990=100

Energy use for transportation

The total energy use for transport purposes has increased markedly. The increase in the entire EEA area (EEA-30) has been 23 per cent from 1990 to 2001. The increase in Norway has been slightly more moderate during this period, 17 per cent (see figure 12).

In 2003, energy use for transport purposes made up 25 per cent of total inland energy use in Norway.

Figure 13. Energy consumption for transport purposes in Norway and EEA-30, by mode of transport. 2001. Per cent

Road transport constitutes the by far highest share of energy use for transport purposes both in Norway and Europe. However, according to the figures in the TERM fact sheet, road transport constitutes a clearly lower share in Norway (58 per cent) than the average for the member countries of EEA, the European Environment Agency (74 per cent). The share of energy use by ships and boats is, however, clearly higher in Norway (see figure 13).

Figure 14. Emissions of greenhouse gases from transport, 1980-2003. Index, 1990=100

Air pollution

During the period 1990-2001, the increase in total greenhouse gas emissions (CO 2 , CH 4 and N 2 O) from transport was somewhat higher in Norway than in the regions EU-15 and EEA-31. In 2001, the Norwegian emissions were 25 per cent above the 1990 level, while the total EU-15 emissions were about 20 per cent above the 1990 level (see figure 14). In 2001, greenhouse gas emissions from transport accounted for 21 per cent of the EU-15 total greenhouse gas emissions. The corresponding figure for Norway was 28 per cent. This does not necessarily mean that we, for example, drive more cars than in the EU, but this difference can rather be explained by the fact that Norway does not have such high emission levels from electricity production. Consequently, transport emissions account for a higher proportion of total emissions.

Figure 15. Emissions of acidifying substances from transport, 1990-2001. Index, 1990=100

During the period 1990-2001, the transport emissions of acidifying substances were reduced by 26 per cent in both EU-15 and EEA-31. In Norway, the reduction has only been 8 per cent (see figure 15). The Norwegian transport emissions of acidifying gases are predominantly from road traffic and boats and ships (inland shipping and fishing).

The largest source of NO x emissions in Norway is ships and boats. Road traffic is also an important source. The total transport emissions of NO x have generally had a downward trend from the end of the 1980s, however the emission level in 2003 was about the same as in 1980. The emissions from road transport have been substantially reduced since 1980, but the emissions from ships and boats have increased by about 25 per cent.

Figure 16. Number of people in Oslo exposed to concentrations of PM10 and NO2 above national target values

In 2003, over 230 000 people in Oslo were exposed to concentrations of particulate matter (PM 1 0 ) above the concentration defined in the national target for local air quality. This was an increase of about 8 per cent from 2001 (see figure 16). The reasons for this include an increased used of studded winter tyres after the tax for studded tyres was removed before the winter 2001/2002, and the fact that there were more episodes with low temperatures and stable weather. In addition to road traffic, fuelwood use in wood-burning stoves and open fireplaces is an important source of emissions of particulate matter. When it comes to NO 2 , there were just under 7 000 people in Oslo that in 2003 were exposed to concentrations above the concentration defined in the national target. This is a 50 per cent reduction compared with 2001, and can be explained primarily by reduced emissions from road traffic.

In 2003, there were about 8 000 people in the town of Trondheim that were exposed to concentrations above the national target for PM 1 0 , and 700 people that were exposed to concentrations above the national target for NO 2 . The corresponding figures for the town of Bergen were 2 700 (PM 1 0 ) and 3 200 (NO 2 ).

Figure 17. Percentage of population exposed to noise from different sources. 1980-2004


Road traffic is the most important source of noise annoyance in Norway. Nearly 1.4 million people were exposed to road traffic noise above 55dBA. Preliminary figures show that road traffic accounted for 78 per cent of noise annoyance, measured by the noise annoyance index, in 2003. The manufacturing industry, the construction industry, rail transport and air traffic each accounted for 4 per cent. Other industrial activities contributed 3 per cent. Statistics Norway's survey of living conditions shows that 5 per cent of the population, well over 200 000 persons, have sleeping problems due to noise.

Oil pollution, discharges to water, etc.

More oil is released into seas by illegal discharges than by shipping accidents. The spills from oil tanker accidents world-wide have been reduced by 60 per cent since the 1970s in spite of an increase in the marine transport of oil. However, major accidents with far reaching economic and environmental consequences continue to occur in European waters.

Figure 18. Number of oil spills, 1987-2004, and source distribution 2004. Norway

Statistics about acute releases of oil (see figure 18) and chemicals from land based sources, ships and offshore petroleum activities in Norway show that ships and offshore activities are significant sources of acute oil spills, while land transportation accounts for much less. When it comes to discharges or spills of chemicals, ships and land transportation are both small sources, here offshore activities and the manufacturing industry are dominant.

Figure 19. Vehicles scrapped for refund. Norway. 1985-2004


The numbers of end-of-life vehicles are expected to grow significantly throughout Europe. Projections indicate an increase in the period 2005-2015 of on average 17 per cent for the EU-15 and EFTA-countries combined (or a 67 per cent increase from 1990). In Norway, a total of 108 880 passenger cars and vans were scrapped in 2004. The average age of scrapped passenger cars was 18.6 years, the highest ever since this statistics was established in 1985. The exceptionally high number of scrapped cars in 1996 was caused by a substantial raise of the refund rate that year (see figure 19).

In Norway, the amount of car batteries returned for recycling in 2004 was just under 16 000 tonnes. In the same year, the amount of used tyres returned was 38 700 tonnes.

Figure 20. Fatal road traffic accidents and traffic volume. Norway. Index, 1960=100

Traffic accidents

There is a clear downward trend regarding the number of road traffic fatalities in Norway during the period from 1970 until the middle of the 1990s (see figure 20). From 1996 to 2003 no clear trend in the number of deaths can be observed. In spite of a nearly tripling of traffic (157 per cent increase) since 1970, the number of road traffic fatalities in 2004 have almost been halved (a 46 per cent decrease) when compared with the number in 1970. The number of traffic fatalities reached a peak in 1970 with 560. In 1996 there were 255 traffic related fatalities, the lowest number since 1955. In 2004, there were 257 road traffic fatalities.

Figure 21. Road traffic. Number of fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants. The Nordic countries and EU-25. 1991-2003

The Nordic countries have the lowest risk levels in road traffic, measured per 100 000 inhabitants, compared to most other European countries (see figure 21). In 2003, Sweden had the lowest number of traffic fatalities with 5.9 fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants, Norway had 6.2, Finland had 7.3 and Denmark had 8.0. There has also been a significant decrease in the risk of road traffic accidents in the EU-25 countries since the beginning of the 1990s. The EU-25 average in 1990 was 16.2 traffic fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants while in 2003 the number was 10.3. In the period 1991-2004 a total of 786 000 persons were killed in traffic accidents in Norway and the 25 countries of the European union.

During the hunting season 2004/2005, 6 226 deer (elk, red deer, reindeer, roe deer) were killed by cars or trains in Norway (see table 1 below). This was a modest decrease from the previous hunting season. Roe deer are particularly vulnerable. With the exception of hunting, the second highest non-natural cause of death of deer is car and train related accidents. During the last hunting season, there were on average 17 cervids that were hit and killed by cars or trains every day. Road traffic accidents accounted for 89 per cent of all fatal collisions with cervids, while trains accounted for the rest.

Figure 22. Percentage of RAMSAR and SPA-areas with transport infrastucture within the protected area, within 1 km and within 5 km of the protected area. Norway. 31 December 2004

Influences on nature

The expansion of the transport infrastructure represents a growing threat to protected nature areas. Often it is roads that are the type of infrastructure which are closest to protected nature areas. 85 per cent of RAMSAR-areas (areas protected under the RAMSAR-convention) in Norway are located within 5 km of a road and over 60 per cent are located within 1 km. Almost 10 per cent of these protected areas have roads within their boundaries (see figure 22).

Figure 23. Effective mesh size. Selected European countries. 2003

Fragmentation of areas due to the expansion of transport infrastructure and the increase in traffic represents a threat to biodiversity which follows directly from these disturbances. Habitats become fragmented and isolated and transport network is responsible for creating barriers for the movement of animals and animal populations. The "effective mesh size" (see figure 23) is a measure indicating the degree of fragmentation. Norway is one of the European countries with largest "effective mesh size", only Sweden and Finland have larger areas.