The "Road to Clean Air: Benefits of a Nationwide Transition to Electric Vehicles" looks at the public health and climate change benefits of transitioning passenger vehicles, transit and school buses, delivery vans and the broad trucking sector away from combustion (gasoline and diesel power) and toward electric vehicles coupled with an increasingly renewable energy sector.
Top 16 metro regions to benefit the most from a transition to electric vehicles
Who Would Benefit?
Lower-income communities and communities of color often face disproportionate exposures to harmful pollution, in addition to disproportionately poor health outcomes, making health and climate equity key to the electric vehicle discussion. Children, seniors and those living with respiratory, cardiovascular and other chronic health conditions are also more vulnerable to poor air quality.
The transition to electric transportation with zero emissions will benefit the health of children riding school buses, daily commuters and transit riders, truck and local delivery drivers and especially those residents nearest major roadways, warehouse distribution centers and other pollution hotspots.
Furthermore, the transition away from burning harmful fossil fuels in the power sector to non-combustion renewable energy, including wind and solar, is critical to addressing the impacts on communities most burdened by emissions generated at fossil-fueled power plants.
How Does It Work?
The report found that a shift to electric vehicles would result in significant air quality and climate benefits. The analysis compares a “business as usual” scenario (without the transition to electric transportation) to a scenario in which we transitioned nationwide to electric transportation in 2050. This comparison found that electric vehicle scenario would reduce:
- ozone- and particle-forming oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 1 million tons in 2050 (an 82% reduction compared with the “Business As Usual” Scenario)
- directly emitted fine particle pollution (PM2.5) by 30,599 tons in 2050 (a 62% reduction)
- greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change by over 1.4 billion metric tons in 2050 (a 90% reduction)
And when factoring in the emissions associated with the production and distribution of fuel for the “Business As Usual” scenario versus the electric vehicle scenario, the benefits grow even further as cleaner energy sources are considered. In fact, when factoring in a cleaner energy future, the report found some pollutants dropped by 100% or more when compared with the “Business As Usual” scenario emissions.
- ozone- and particle-forming oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are reduced by 1.3 million tons (100% reduction compared with the “Business As Usual” Scenario)
- directly emitted fine particle pollution (PM2.5) is reduced by more than 53,000 tons in 2050 (a 108% reduction below on-road fleet emissions)
- greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change are reduced by more than 1.5 billion metric tons in 2050 (a 94% reduction) compared with the on-road emissions generated by the baseline fleet.
Achieving these major benefits to our health and our climate will require dedicated and sustained leadership and investment at all levels of government, and will require public education and engagement to ensure the transition to electric vehicles provides clean air for all communities.