New research shows switch to electric trucks and buses could save 57,000 lives

Image: Freightliner

As the global momentum for public policies founded in science continues to build (see this morning’s “Monday numbers” story about the hope and promise in the growth of wind power), here’s another important story that demonstrates the urgency of rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels. A new study conducted by researchers at the Environmental Defense Fund finds that transitioning to electric trucks and buses in urban areas could save as many as 57,000 lives by mid-century.

This is from the introduction to “Clean Trucks, Clean Air, American Jobs: Eliminating pollution from all new truck and buses by 2040 — and urban and community applications by 2035 — will save thousands of lives, cut climate pollution, and result in shared economic benefits”:

A rapid transition to zero-emitting medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses is critically important to reduce harmful pollution in communities across the country—especially lower income neighborhoods and communities of color that disproportionately bear the burden of this pollution. Eliminating tailpipe pollution from these vehicles is also essential to help meet our nation’s climate goals. Our nation must adopt air pollution standards that ensure that all new sales of medium-and heavy-duty trucks and buses are zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2040 at the latest. And we must take swifter action to protect communities more acutely impacted by trucking pollution by eliminating tailpipe pollution from new vehicles that operate in urban and community applications by 2035.

The Biden-Harris Administration has committed to achieving a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050 and, as part of that goal, ensuring that 100% of new sales for light and medium-duty vehicles will be electrified. The Biden campaign also set a goal that all new buses be zero emissions by 2030. The Administration must also commit to multi-pollutant standards under the Clean Air Act that ensure all new medium-and heavy-duty vehicles are zero-emitting. Protective standards must be paired with public and private investments in infrastructure and American manufacturing, vehicle purchase incentives and other policies that will ensure good-paying American jobs and a transition to zero emissions that is rapid, durable, and benefits all Americans. This report analyzes the important health and environmental benefits associated with medium-and heavy-duty pollution standards and supporting societal investments that achieve the above goals. Eliminating tailpipe pollution from these vehicles by 2040 would:

  • Avoid 224 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions every year by 2040 and eliminate more than 4.7billion tons cumulatively by 2050.
  • Significantly reduce ozone forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution by more than450,000tons and harmful particulate pollution by nearly 9,000 tons every year by 2040 –pollution that disproportionately impacts people of color and lower income neighborhoods.
  • Prevent as many as 2,600 premature deaths and 140,000 lost workdays each year by 2040 and prevent as many as 57,000 premature deaths in total through 2050.
  • Provide our nation with up to $485billion in health and environmental benefits alone as a result of pollution reductions

Click here to read the full report.

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