Distributional impacts of fleet-wide change in light duty transportation: Mortality risks of PM2.5 emissions from electric vehicles and Tier 3 conventional vehicles

Madalsa Singh, Christopher W. Tessum, Julian D. Marshall, Inês M.L. Azevedo

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Abstract

Light-duty transportation continues to be a significant source of air pollutants that cause premature mortality and greenhouse gases (GHGs) that lead to climate change. We assess PM2.5 emissions and its health consequences under a large-scale shift to electric vehicles (EVs) or Tier-3 internal combustion vehicles (ICVs) across the United States, focusing on implications by states and for the fifty most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSA). We find that both Tier-3 ICVs and EVs reduce premature mortality by 80%-93% compared to the current light-duty vehicle fleet. The health and climate mitigation benefits of electrification are larger in the West and Northeast. As the grid decarbonizes further, EVs will yield even higher benefits from reduced air pollution and GHG emissions than gasoline vehicles. EVs lead to lower health damages in almost all the 50 most populous MSA than Tier-3 ICVs. Distributional analysis suggests that relying on the current gasoline fleet or moving to Tier-3 ICVs would impact people of color more than White Americans across all states, levels of urbanization, and household income, suggesting that vehicle electrification is more suited to reduce health disparities. We also simulate EVs under a future cleaner electric grid by assuming that the 50 power plants across the nation that have the highest amount of annual SO2 emissions are retired or retrofitted with carbon capture and storage, finding that in that case, vehicle electrification becomes the best strategy for reducing health damages from air pollution across all states.

Original languageEnglish
Article number034034
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • air quality
  • electric vehicles
  • environmental justice
  • Tier 3 vehicles
  • transportation

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