Electric vehicle (EV) adoption promises potential air pollutant and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction co‐benefits. As such, China has aggressively incentivized EV adoption, however much remains unknown with regard to EVs’ mitigation potential, including optimal vehicle type prioritization, power generation contingencies, effects of Clean Air regulations, and the ability of EVs to reduce acute impacts of extreme air quality events. Here, we present a suite of scenarios with a chemistry transport model that assess the potential co‐benefits of EVs during an extreme winter air quality event. We find that regardless of power generation source, heavy‐duty vehicle (HDV) electrification consistently improves air quality in terms of NO2and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), potentially avoiding 562 deaths due to acute pollutant exposure during the infamous January 2013 pollution episode (∼1% of total premature mortality). However, HDV electrification does not reduce GHG emissions without enhanced emission‐free electricity generation. In contrast, due to differing emission profiles, light‐duty vehicle (LDV) electrification in China consistently reduces GHG emissions (∼2 Mt CO2), but results in fewer air quality and human health improvements (145 avoided deaths). The calculated economic impacts for human health endpoints and CO2reductions for LDV electrification are nearly double those of HDV electrification in present‐day (155M vs. 87M US$), but are within ∼25% when enhanced emission‐free generation is used to power them. Overall, we find only a modest benefit for EVs to ameliorate severe wintertime pollution events, and that continued emission reductions in the power generation sector will have the greatest human health and economic benefits.
Vehicle electrification is a common climate change mitigation strategy, with policymakers invoking co‐beneficial reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and air pollutant emissions. However, while previous studies of U.S. electric vehicle (EV) adoption consistently predict CO2mitigation benefits, air quality outcomes are equivocal and depend on policies assessed and experimental parameters. We analyze climate and health co‐benefits and trade‐offs of six U.S. EV adoption scenarios: 25% or 75% replacement of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, each under three different EV‐charging energy generation scenarios. We transfer emissions from tailpipe to power generation plant, simulate interactions of atmospheric chemistry and meteorology using the GFDL‐AM4 chemistry climate model, and assess health consequences and uncertainties using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Benefits Mapping Analysis Program Community Edition (BenMAP‐CE). We find that 25% U.S. EV adoption, with added energy demand sourced from the present‐day electric grid, annually results in a ~242 M ton reduction in CO2emissions, 437 deaths avoided due to PM2.5reductions (95% CI: 295, 578), and 98 deaths avoided due to lesser ozone formation (95% CI: 33, 162). Despite some regions experiencing adverse health outcomes, ~$16.8B in damages avoided are predicted. Peak CO2reductions and health benefits occur with 75% EV adoption and increased emission‐free energy sources (~$70B in damages avoided). When charging‐electricity from aggressive EV adoption is combustion‐only, adverse health outcomes increase substantially, highlighting the importance of low‐to‐zero emission power generation for greater realization of health co‐benefits. Our results provide a more nuanced understanding of the transportation sector's climate change mitigation‐health impact relationship.more » « less
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