This story was originally posted by Canary Islands Media and is reproduced here with permission.
As a plume of orange smoke from Canadian wildfires engulfed the northeast this month and made New York’s air is the most toxic in the world for a dayair quality and its impact on human health have been making headlines across the country.
For this reason, a transition to electric vehicles and renewable energy would not only reduce carbon emissions, but also harmful air pollutants. A recent American Lung Association report quantifies how much some of the most common pollutants would be reduced if the country were to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and a clean energy grid.
Some of the most common harmful pollutants are particulate matter, especially PM2.5volatile organic compounds (VOC), nitrogen oxides (NOX), greenhouse gases (GHG) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). They have been linked to health problems ranging from decreased lung function to an increased risk of asthma, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
More than four in 10 Americans live in communities affected by unhealthy levels of air pollution, but people of color and lower-income Americans are much more likely to be exposed to almost all sources of pollution.
The American Lung Association report finds that a national transition to 100% new sales of zero-emission passenger vehicles by 2035 and medium and heavy trucks by 2040, coupled with a carbon-free network, would reduce considerably the concentrations of these pollutants in the air. By 2030, NOXSO2 and GHGs would be reduced by more than 50% compared to 2020. By 2040, VOCs and PM2.5 would fall by more than 40%. And in 2050, NOXSO2 and GHG pollution would be down by more than 90% compared to 2020; VOCs would drop by 78% and PM2.5 by 61 percent.
The report offers several ways to think about the impact of these cuts: they would equate to more than $1.2 trillion in public health benefits in the form of more than 100,000 premature deaths averted, nearly 3 million asthma attacks averted and more than 13 million premature deaths averted. millions of lost working days. In addition, there would be significant climate benefits – the report’s modeled scenario would result in a reduction in greenhouse gases (CO2 equivalent) of 1.5 billion tonnes per year in 2050.
As it stands, President Biden and major automakers have set a goal of half of all new cars sold will be electric vehicles by 2030, and California, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York have all mandated that 100% of new car sales be zero emissions by 2035. These more aggressive goals are consistent with the scenario modeled by the report. TO THE. Fifteen states, including the four above, have also already adopted standards for zero-emission vehicles, and a growing number are implementing requirements for zero-emission trucks.
Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposals for new emissions standards earlier this year, which, if passed, would be the toughest pollution standards ever imposed on cars and trucks in the United States. The EPA estimates the new standards would put the country on track for electric vehicles to account for up to 67% of commercial vehicle sales and 46% of new commercial vehicle sales by 2032.
The Biden administration has also set a national goal to make the U.S. electric grid carbon-free by 2035.
As the report shows, the stakes for the United States to meet its most aggressive EV and renewable energy adoption targets are high, not only because of the imperative to reduce carbon emissions, but also because of the significant public health benefits that will flow from a transition. away from fossil fuels.