Electric Cars Race To a Healthier Future

Zero-emission vehicles could save states a signficant amount in health and climate change costs.


Electric cars may have gotten off to a slow start, but with new zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) about to hit the streets, the category might be poised to finally go mainstream. There’s another big driver for the ZEV momentum: A recently released report that shows how impactful non-polluting vehicles can be on climate change and human wellness.

The report, called the Clean Air Future and released by the American Lung Association in California, takes a look at the commitment by California and nine other states to shift toward electric cars. The study found that increasing use of electric cars could slash annual the states' health and climate change costs by $21 billion and prevent 2,246 premature deaths annually by 2050. In 2015 alone, pollution from passenger vehicles in the 10 states amounted to $37 billion in combined health and climate costs, and those costs could fall by more than 85 percent with the emergence of more ZEVs, according to the report.

The researchers arrived at their findings based on the assumption that 65 percent of cars in those states will be ZEVs by 2050, fueling a conservative estimate of health and climate change costs dropping from $37 billion annually to $15.7 billion. Based on this math, the study indicates the move would prevent 195,000 lost work days, more than 96,000 asthma attacks, and some 2,200 premature deaths.

Reduction in climate change costs is another big benefit of ZEV adoption, and to that point, the study finds the participating states would save $5.5 billion in 2030 and $12.8 billion in 2050 thanks to improved productivity in agriculture and a reduction in what is currently spent on flood damage and climate-related healthcare costs.

Maybe it's time for an electric car in my future.

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