New Report: Transition to Zero-Emission Vehicles Would Save 6,200 New York Lives, Generate $68.2 Billion in Public Health Benefits

American Lung Association’s "Zeroing in on Healthy Air” report details benefits of transition to zero-emission transportation for New York residents

A nationwide transition to clean, zero-emission vehicles would have a dramatic impact on the air quality and health of New York residents, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. The “Zeroing in on Healthy Air” report, released today, reveals that a widespread transition to vehicles powered by clean electricity generation would result in up to 6,200 avoided deaths and $68.2 billion in public health benefits here in New York. In fact, the New York-Newark metro area was ranked 2nd on the list of metro areas that would benefit the most from the transition, following only Los Angeles.

“Zeroing in on Healthy Air” outlines the broad benefits of the transition to a zero-emission transportation sector over the coming decades. The report illustrates the potential health and climate benefits if all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035 and all new trucks and buses sold are zero-emission by 2040. The report projects that the nation’s electric grid will be powered by clean, non-combustion electricity replacing dirty fossil fuels by 2035.

Nationally, a widespread transition to electric vehicles would generate more than $1.2 trillion in health benefits and $1.7 trillion in additional climate benefits by 2050. Here in New York the transition would generate $68.2 billion in public health benefits and result in up to:

  • 6,200 avoided deaths 
  • 159,000 avoided asthma attacks 
  • 825,000 avoided lost workdays 

“The transportation sector is a leading contributor to air pollution and climate change,” said Trevor Summerfield, director of advocacy at the American Lung Association in New York. “Thankfully, the technologies and systems are in place to make these benefits a reality, especially in communities most impacted by harmful pollution today. We need our state leaders to act to implement equitable policies and invest in the transition to healthy air today. This is an urgent health issue for millions of people in the U.S.” 

At the time of this report, the New York State Legislature is considering a first-in-the-nation proposal from Governor Kathy Hochul to electrify the state’s school buses by 2035.  Senators have suggested supporting the proposal with $1 billion in funding, a state-developed implementation plan, and technical assistance for districts. The American Lung Association has come out in support of both the Governor’s and the Senate’s proposals.  

Summerfield said, “This innovative approach would make New York the clear leader on electric vehicles and may provide a blueprint for states who are looking for a way to address air pollution, education, environmental injustice, and ambitions emissions goals all in one sweep.  We urge the state to move forward.”

Climate change threatens the health of all Americans, from wildfires and extreme storms to worsening air pollution. And poor air quality caused by transportation and electricity generation contributes to a wide range of negative health impacts, including childhood asthma attacks, impaired lung function and development, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and premature deaths. These are sources of health disparities in lower-income communities and communities of color, both in terms of exposure to harmful air and the associated health consequences. 

Achieving these major benefits to our health and our climate will require dedicated and sustained leadership. Investment at all levels of government, and public education and engagement will ensure the transition to zero-emission vehicles provides clean air for everyone. The American Lung Association is asking the public to sign our petition calling for a more rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles and energy at Lung.org/EV 

For more information about "Zeroing in on Healthy Air,” visit Lung.org/EV

Journalists seeking to speak with a policy or medical expert about this report and the health impacts of air pollution or climate change may contact Jennifer Solomon at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.
 

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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