Cities are awash in microscopic soot and other pollutants from the tailpipes of vehicles. Apart from contributing substantially to the warming of the planet, these emissions have a significant impact on human health. Research at Cornell University has determined that the continued growth of electric cars will lead to cleaner air and reduced human mortality in most if not all U.S. metropolitan areas.
The study, published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, estimated the health impact and consequential economic impact of cleaner air in American cities as a result of the transition to electric vehicles.
For example, by 2050, Los Angeles will have 1,163 fewer premature deaths annually, corresponding to $12.6 billion in economic health benefits. Greater New York City could see 574 fewer deaths a year leading to $6.24 billion in associated economic gains.
Global sales of electric cars have grown steadily. In 2016, they accounted for less than 1% of the market. That share grew to 2.2% in 2018, 4.1% in 2020, and 6.6% in 2021.
In the U.S., electric cars accounted for 4.5% of sales in 2021, but in many cities, the numbers were much higher.
These trends are likely to accelerate as a combination of government policies and major decisions by automakers drive a rapid transition to electrification. While mitigating the effects of climate change continues to be the main driving force for that transition, the human health benefits will be a very significant reward for doing the right thing for the planet.
Photo, posted May 11, 2021, courtesy of Chris Yarzab via Flickr.