Norway Green Party Proposes Personal Flight Quotas

Filed Under: Travel

The Green Party of Norway (MDG) has revealed a series of initiatives targeting the aviation industry. This comes ahead of September’s national elections — while there won’t be a Green Party Prime Minister, the party could play an important role in building a coalition.

So, what aviation measures is the Green Party proposing?

Creating personal flight quotas

The Green Party is proposing the concept of flight quotas for every Norwegian:

  • Everyone would be given a quota for how many flights they can take each year
  • This would be a barter system of sorts, so that those who fly a lot could buy their flight quota from others who don’t fly as much
  • A person’s flight quota will take into account geographical and socioeconomic differences
  • It’s argued that Norway can’t just wait for electric planes, but rather that something needs to be done to reduce peoples’ appetite for flying and travel

Eliminating airport duty free shopping

The Green Party wants to eliminate duty free shopping at airports. This is obviously a huge source of revenue for airports, so why discontinue it? Well, it’s argued that duty free shopping creates an incentive to take more flights, and that’s bad.

Improving rail connections

French lawmakers recently moved to ban short haul domestic flights, though in reality this only eliminated five out of 100+ domestic routes. Along similar lines, the Green Party wants Norway to invest in train travel so that it can become more efficient, and a better alternative to flying.

The problem is that Norway is a fairly large and sparsely populated country with mountainous terrain, so creating high-speed rail links is expensive and challenging.

Banning advertising of domestic routes

The Green Party also wants to ban advertising of domestic routes, with a similar goal of trying to create as little desire as possible to fly.

Bottom line

Norway’s Green Party is proposing some pretty drastic measures to reduce demand for flying, from creating personal flight quotas, to eliminating duty free purchases. It’s anyone’s guess if any of this will ever become law, though these sure are some major proposals.

What’s my take?

  • Investing in rail is of course great, if it could become a practical alternative to flying
  • The concept of banning advertising for domestic flights will just cause advertising for international flights to increase, so does that really accomplish anything?
  • Banning duty free sales seems a bit much, because it’s not like people fly because of duty free
  • I’m not sure a system that commoditizes peoples’ right to travel would have a positive impact; it also seems unfair that there would be no limits on driving, but there would be limits on flying

What do you make of Norway’s proposals to reduce flying?

  1. Another idea to limit individual freedom. This has nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with increased governmental control.

  2. Europe’s lurch to authoritarianism concerns me. We need far less of these illiberal intrusions into personal freedom.
    This is Norway the massive oil producer and investor, let’s not forget.

  3. Ridiculous notion that people take flights just to get access to duty free shopping!

    If they are going to give people quotas then it should include everything they use – planes and cars and recycling etc.

    Why should someone who has a car get the same flight quota as someone dosen’t drive when the former is already causing more emissions.

    But if they do give everyone a flight quota then they shouldn’t be allowed just to buy from people who aren’t flying. They can buy extra from government at an increased price.

    And Norway does have a reasonably extensive rail network – much of it electrified – so don’t discount that

  4. The big lesson from the last year has been:

    1) centralized decision ensures the best outcome for all
    2) Politicians are smartest, so we should do what they say
    3) Limiting liberties is the key to ensuring safety
    4) If everyone does as they are told, everything will be fine.
    5) Public experts are always right, individuals are wrong.

    What did I miss?

    Sounds like Norway is on the path to happiness!

  5. This is just downright dangerous for the Norwegian people. “We are going to limit your movement for the good of the environment.” Next “We are going to limit what you look at online and the books you read for the good of our society.” There is an unquestionable connection here and the space between the two is growing closer by the day. If some Norwegians honestly believe incremental restrictions do not lead to eventual dictatorships where nearly all freedoms are stripped away then please do humanity a favor and open a history book. These things do not happen over night; it happens just like this.


    A German citizen.

  6. The domestic advertisement ban seems counter-intuitive. You ban domestic flight advertisements and suddenly ads for exploring Tromso from Oslo become ads for exploring Reykjavik, a destination over 400 miles further.

  7. Already, cars in Norway are heavily taxes so that a $100,000 car is common.

    Lots of smaller cities in the north depend on flights. Not everyone only travels between Oslo and Bergen.

  8. Carbon output from animal husbandry is multiples that of air travel. Anyone who decries anthropogenic climate change while consuming animal products is an utter hypocrite.

    This is just more neo-Malthusian, anti-human posturing from the left. I wonder if the Green Party thinks Norway should give away the oil money in its Sovereign Pension Fund. It wouldn’t want to taint the funding of its social welfare programs, after all.

  9. Total madness. I fear that more anti-flying, anti-travel and anti-freedom regulations will sweep all over the EU in the coming years. If I could, I would immediately relocate (from Sweden) to the US.

  10. I guess Widerøe won’t be selling their unlimited pass anymore if this goes through.

    Duty-free shopping incentivize travel? Are they serious with this?

    But seriously, have these people looked at a map of Norway?
    Norway’s 4 biggest cities in order are Oslo, Bergen, Trondeim, Stavanger. They are all connected to Oslo by rail, but Bergen, Trondeim, Stavanger have no rail connections to each other directly. Asking people to switch from an 1hr flight to a 6-8hr train right to fight climate change, I can buy. I hate it, but I’m not a climate change denier and I can, unwillingly, get on board with this. But if I have to travel between Bergen, Trondeim, Stavanger, now I have to take TWO 6-8 hour train ride and spent a full day just to take a connecting train service through Olso? That is obsurd.

    Trains are fantastic for countries like France, Germany, Spain where they are round/square ish, and the opposite corners of the countries are more similar distance to each other. Countries like Norway and Sweden and long, and makes going from the long end impractical by train. Throw in the Norwegian fjords that, makes even short physical distance between Bergen and Stavanger impossible to connect by train. Oh, and hope you don’t have to go to Svalbard regularly.

    This is just the French domestic flight ban. Sounds good in theory, except the only people fly domestically in France are people on connecting flights so it makes no difference

  11. Norwegians don’t fly to buy duty free, they take the ferries to Kiel, Germany, pack as many people in a car and buy as much duty free as one person is allowed and then return.
    Europe doesn’t realize that their ridiculous measures mean nothing in relation to the US, India, China or Africa in terms of pollution.

  12. LOL. The only reason the Greens in Norway can spout off with this utter nonsense is because they have a huge reserve of money from….oil. Without oil Norway would be a land of dirt farms and cod fisherman sending their best and brightest to the US…just like they were before.

  13. The tyranny of the radical left just gets more and more brazen over time. They already stifle speech that they don’t like. Now they want to clamp down on your ability to travel freely. All while calling their opposition “fascist”, I point that out because THEY are the real fascists.

    Can’t wait to see the usual apologists of that ideology here telling us how this is for our own good.

  14. The amount of name calling and vitriol from the right wing on this one is not surprising. If you look at it from an environmental standpoint, air travel does cause carbon emissions and thus climate change. This is a negative externality and economics says, should therefore be taxed accordingly.

    The Green Party’s approach is certainly midguided and — to the American right — unappealing. But if one engages with this as a societal problem that requires thoughtful policy responses, instead of resorting to name calling, one will get a better solution.

  15. I wonder if the Green Party of Norway was inspired by the Norwegian TV series ‘Occupied.’ The policy of telling citizens how often they may travel seems like it could be part of the next phase of the great reset. Be it on his yacht, private jet, or in his mansion, I am sure Bill Gates smiled when reading the news.

  16. Just an FYI, MDG has approximately 9,900 members, while a Facebook group that directly translates to “we who hate MDG” has 61,000 members. Thankfully, they’re not widely appealing, but in Oslo. They’ve also shown interest in using billions of the oil fund Norway has created through the years, to invest in “future green opportunities”.
    Let’s not forget how they’ve stripped Oslo of trees along the roads and on avenues to build separate roads for cyclists. In their mind, asphalt is friendlier on the environment than trees. (no one’s using the cycle roads)

    So yeah, they’re controversial

  17. “This would be a barter system of sorts, so that those who fly a lot could buy their flight quota from others who don’t fly as much”

    They might as well admit that they don’t want to share planes with people who need the extra income from selling their quotas.

  18. Bed Dover

    if you want to look at authoritarian intrusions into personal liberty you should start with what the roght wing wants to and actually do in the US

  19. “it also seems unfair that there would be no limits on driving, but there would be limits on flying”

    This is not a big argument, since Norway is the leading country regarding the adoption of fully electric vehicles.

    The share of BEVs is growing rapidly. Regarding emissions you cannot compare driving with flying especially in Norway

  20. Another issue is these proposed, outright bans kills an important innovation pipeline. It is these (often domestic) shorter and sometimes low volume/high frequency routes which could and should be innovation ecosystems for non-jet fuel technology in turn leading to workable technology for longer distances in the longer term. Political opportunism which compromises the wider long term goal of reducing emissions from aircraft. Shame.

  21. @ David, you are wrong. if the goal was to offset the economic externality of pollution, which is one of the most studied topics in economics, there are numerous straightforward economic offset including fees, taxes and adjustment of subsidies that do not directly impact access. At the core of an economic externality is the idea of distorted pricing, which can be addressed by altering price to the consumer. Higher prices would almost certainly align with policy goal of reducing travel. Would the reduction impact people with less money more, yes. That is not an economic externality. That is social policy. The Greens appear to either be truly horrible economists or (more likely) want to create a social divide to pick up a few points in opinion poll.

  22. I’m all in favour of individual freedom but, as the US Supreme Court once ruled, your freedom to swing your fist ends just before the tip of my nose.

    A couple of weeks ago, Airbus issued a study which showed that the planes they had they delivered in 2019 and 2020 (and that year saw a sharp reduction, let’s not forget), would, over the course of their working lives, emit two BILLION tonnes of CO2.

    That’s just those Airbus planes sold in those two years.

    Despite tinkering at the margins (and the UK’s APD which is so hated on OMAAT is one such initiative), the pollution caused by aviation is, as the economists say, an externality — which, to us frequent flyers, is largely free.

    We don’t pay the costs of helping to destroy the environment. In fact, we appear to resent anything that seems to require even the tiniest change in our behaviours which might minimise our impact on the rest of the world.

    Why should those elements of our lifestyles which damage other people be ours to enjoy consequence-free?

    Oh, unless you’re a climate change denier, I guess.

  23. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
    Liberals want to strip us of all of our rights!
    lol @Ben, your comments section on some of your articles are becoming more ridiculous than those on the Fox News site.
    Some of these proposals are absolutely ridiculous, but folks screaming that civil liberties are is grave danger need to stop falsely equivocating authoritarianism and accountability. If you just want to do or say whatever the hell you want to without giving a s*** about how your actions or words impact the planet or others, just own that, and stop hiding behind right wing cries of oppression. Accountability only feels like a threat when you refuse to see how your actions harm others – if you don’t care about others, just say it, and stop pretending you really care about civil liberties (because, if you really did, you’d actually care about how one’s actions impact others).

  24. “Ridiculous notion that people take flights just to get access to duty free shopping!”

    Laugh if you want. On my first trip to Europe, long, long ago, I caught a cheap flight from New York to Luxembourg, via Reykjavik, on the old Icelandair. On the return flight, I was seated next to a very friendly (and very drunk) man from Iceland. He told me that he had flown to Luxembourg that morning just to buy beer, alcohol and cigarettes. I scoffed — yeah, sure.

    Then I spent 2 days in Iceland. The prices in grocery stores for the most basic, low-end food items (can of soup, box of dried pasta) astonished me — for “survival basics (I was right out of college and had just spent all my money in Europe). Prices for alcohol were enough to make my head spin without a single drink (my budget at the time was barely adequate for that can of soup).

    So while it may seem laughable to those of us who live in the land of cheap booze, for those who live in Scandinavian countries where “luxury items” are taxed at stunning levels, this “book a flight to pick up some beer” plan is a real thing. When I took that flight from Luxembourg to Reykjavik, it was long before the era of ultra low cost carriers — that guy paid for a round-trip ticket to continental Europe that was not cheap. In today’s era of $29 flights, I can only imagine the incentive to consider an airport in the next country as your discount liquor outlet. I bet this is actually quite common (pre-pandemic).

    Now, Norway’s proposal is crazy for a whole list of reasons, and I bet plenty of people do fly off for a beer run. But they could “fix” that by simply changing their duty-free import regulations. Just double (or triple) the domestic taxes on alcohol, tobacco, etc., and apply those upon arrival for all personal imports. Poof, end of international duty-free runs.

  25. The co-option of conservatism by libertarian anarchists is one of the saddest developments of the past 20 years.

    The proposal to cap the total number of person-flights and allow a market for flight certificates is exactly the mechanism developed by mainstream economists in the 1970s and 1980s as the efficient solution to direct regulation. This is the basis for cap-and-trade that worked to efficiently eliminate sulfuric and nitric oxide from falling out of the sky and chemically burning our forests, lakes, rivers, and farms. There are comments here that are basically calling Milton Friedman a communist!

    The Green Party is proposing the most market-based solution to an externality one could possibly imagine. But, there is just a tribe of zealots–truly ignorant zealots–that know nothing about economics or about history. This extreme individual liberty concept does not appear in Locke or Montesquieu or Jefferson or Hamilton or Madison. It derives from a profoundly selfish desire to enjoy all the benefits of a society, but pay none of the costs. It is intellectually vacuous and morally empty.

  26. Wow, seems like the Green Party needs to have a quota on the amount of dumb legislation they are allowed to sponsor/pass. In that vein, they should impose quotas on how much food and how much water each person is allowed to consume.

  27. I’m UK-based, I’ve never voted for the Green Party, but I’ve also never ruled out voting for them, so I have considered giving them my vote at various elections.

    However, they sure do seem to be coming out with some crazy stuff right now. In the UK, after the disgraceful murder of a young woman by a male (off-duty) police officer, a Green Party peer suggested men should be banned from going outside after 6pm so woman would feel safe walking at night. While we must do all we can so woman don’t feel scared being outside alone at night, that idea was just crazy.

  28. @ Dick Bupkiss

    Yes, but that’s Iceland, not Norway.

    There are massive warehouses sized store / barges on the German – Danish border that caters to Scandinavian shoppers. The parking are filled with cars from DK/SE/NO. If you show a non-DE passport you don’t have to pay tax. Alcohol price is a third of the price in Sweden, maybe more in Norway

    It makes no sense for a Norwegian to fly to another country to buy a pitiful amount of duty free goods, when they can split a rental a car (if they don’t have one) with friends, drive down to the DK/DE border, and fill up the back of their Volvo station wagon to their heart’s content and drive home. Hell, in Sweden there are companies that organize busses to these tax free shops to make it even easier and cheaper

  29. Watermelons. Green on the outside and red in the middle. It’s all little by little, and those that only read headlines seem to follow willingly.

  30. Cap-and-trade only makes sense if those industries forced to trade can work on, implement and scale solutions not having to trade anymore, e.g. by switching technologies while keeping up the same operations. I don’t see how individual passengers could play that part other than opting for trains on short hauls, which isn’t very ambitious.

  31. @nicePaul – well put.

    @cargocult – is that your answer to solve the climate crisis? Don’t do anything before we stop eating meat?

  32. I’m down for a carbon tax that applies equally to all industries but eff singling out politically unpopular industries…

    Europe is such a sad place, free riding on rest of world’s R&D yet expecting to be first in line for the benefits

  33. @Florian

    Your claim is false. There is nothing in the cap-and-trade framework that requires technological innovation to achieve static or dynamic efficiency. The use of cap-and-trade permit systems for fisheries catches is a classic example.

    Eliminating an externality through a tax requires setting the optimal Pigouvian tax rate, which requires knowledge of the actual demand or supply curve (knowing the size of the marginal social cost in equilbrium is not (in general) sufficient. We generally only know we have set the “right” tax when we reach the desired Q. It is far easier to just set Q, assign property rights (that thing libertarians love) to permits, and let the market find the right price for those permits.

    **BONUS: pigovian taxes achieve efficiency only in partial equilibrium. When there are multiple markets, inefficiencies are created elsewhere.

    Here is what libertarians should love: there is no tax revenue with cap-and-trade! There is nothing for the government to spend! That was the whole attraction of cap-and-trade to “neo-liberals.” But, we are at a point that sensible, market-based solutions to social problems are Communism. We are all poorer for this sad turn to denigrating careful thought for policito-religious zealotry.

    Your claim about only minor effects I also find dubious. Because only individuals would be assigned permits, businesses would need to enter the market to purchase these for business travel. What Covid has done to corporate travel would surely be reinforced.

    Nevertheless, if you could augment the scheme with such incentives, I would completely agree with you that would be better. And, I think that is possible. For example, permits could be for mileage segments, so there was no incentive to spread the overhead across long-haul flights. Even better, segment-emissions permits. That would create an incentive to offer lower emissions flights. But, this type of policy development is anethema to a vocal, ignorant, right-wing portion of the Western population at the moment.

  34. Norway’s Green Party holds exactly ONE seat in parliament, so none of this would ever happen, and Norway is not some nanny state trampling individual freedoms. This would have been a good detail to include the article, though I doubt that would have disuaded many commenters from posting.

  35. Interesting observations and kind of amusing to read about my home country here. While it is clear for all that the Green party is an extreme left party and are outright hated across much of Norway especially rural areas, they do have a following amonger younger people particularly in the bigger cities. While I agree to an extent that we need to invest in new and modern future industries (oil is declining and going away at some point) I find it hilarious that it is so easy to forget where we come from and forget where the majority of our revenues and taxes are coming from today: offshore oil and gas. The Green party wants to end all oil exploration today, if we did the country would be technically bankrupt. Like in all election years, some of the most provoking ideas will be floated but this is not going to fly (pun intended).

  36. I would truly be surprised if this actually happened.

    – airport duty free hasn’t been a deal for a very, very long time … certainly not one worth the inconvenience of paying for and flying a flight.
    – people will figure out a way to easily trade their own flight credits, for cash, to people who want them. i don’t think this is a bad thing; if the individual flight credits are issued fairly then this could be a sensible way to proceed.

    but, please, go ahead and make the rail networks better. making the train network competitive is good for everyone.

  37. Just another tax/exchange. The only people making money on this will be the ones instituting the laws. Kind of like our carbon exchange here. Eye roll.

  38. @Richard

    You are begging the question that air travel is a social problem. Demonstrate exactly how it is problematic first and then we can move on to mitigating it. Even if carbon output were such a dire problem, there are much larger emitters than air travel we could address. If you believe carbon output is killing people, there are other things that I assume kill people in far greater numbers such as drugs/alcohol/tobacco/obesity. Why are the latter three not banned? Why would you not address problems like those? Why not cap-and-trade food consumption? Do we know what the area under the demand curve for calories should be for a national population? People shouldn’t be allowed to eat more than that, and certainly not any of it as animal products.

  39. absolutely LUDICROUS.

    attention needs to be turned to countries that emit air pollution like crazy like India, China, etc.
    Hold those countries accountable, force them to change and become more green with their factories etc instead of restricting personal freedoms in basic necessities like freedom of travel.

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