EcoLog,  6/12/2020

Report calculates public health benefits of conversion to electric vehicles

by Mark Sabourin

Computer simulations from the University of Toronto’s Transportation and Air Quality Research Group suggest that the electrification of the vehicle fleet will do much more than reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, a shift to electric cars and SUVs would result in 313 fewer premature deaths per year. Newer, cleaner trucks would mean 275 fewer premature deaths annually, and electrifying all public transit buses would cut another 143 premature deaths annually. A single electric vehicle replacing a gas-powered car brings approximately $10,000 in social benefits.

Those are some of the results in “Clearing The Air: How Electric Vehicles And Cleaner Trucks Can Reduce Pollution, Improve Health And Save Lives In The Greater Toronto And Hamilton Area”, a collaboration of the University of Toronto’s Transportation and Air Quality Research Group, the Ontario Public Health Association, and Environmental Defence.

The report, released June 3, 2020, examines five different scenarios representing different degrees of electric vehicle adoption. It then considers the impact of each scenario on common transportation-related air pollutants, such as NO2, PM2.5, black carbon and ozone, and calculates the resulting social benefits.

Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy program manager at Environmental Defence, said the report makes a strong case for more government action to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.

“Strong policy tools to electrify vehicles and reduce pollution from trucks will save lives by improving respiratory and cardiovascular health, and reducing future climate-related health risks,” said Buchanan in a statement.

For Marianne Hatzopoulou, associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering, the report underscores the importance of quantifying public health benefits when crafting climate policy.

“I hope that governments will consider the evidence from this report and start including both the impacts on public health and on greenhouse gas emissions when determining transportation policies and investments,” said Hatzopoulou in a statement.

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