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U.S. EV Transition Could Save 100,000 Lives, $1.2 Trillion in Health Costs by 2050

A wholesale switch to electric vehicles in the United States could save more than 100,000 lives and more than US$1.2 trillion in public health costs by 2050, says a new report by the American Lung Association.

In the fossil-free future modeled by the American Lung Association (ALA), “all new passenger vehicles are zero-emission by 2035, all new heavy-duty vehicles, like trucks and buses, are zero-emission by 2040, and the electrical grid is powered by clean, renewable energy by 2035,” reports Grist.

Lead author Will Barrett, the ALA’s director of clean air advocacy, described the targets are “ambitious, but achievable.”

Meeting these targets would reduce nitrogen oxide pollution, a main constituent of smog, by 92% across America’s road transport sector. It would also produce a 61% drop in hazardous PM2.5 particulate matter.

The climate boon would be significant as well: switching to EVs would deliver a 93% drop in the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to preventing 100,000 premature deaths, the ALA concluded that a shift to EVs would prevent 2.8 million asthma attacks by 2050, while reducing the incidence of a host of other pollution related problems.

Grist adds that ALA’s report is also the path to greater environmental justice. “The 72 million Americans who live near truck freight routes and bear the brunt of pollution from the transportation sector are disproportionately people of colour and those with lower incomes,” the report states.

The path to the transition will be steep, however: to date, only 15 U.S. states have zero-emission mandates for passenger vehicles, and only six have mandates for trucks, Grist writes.