Dartmouth Events

Rapid and Equitable Transport Decarbonization in the Age of Electrification

Research seminar with Madalsa Singh, PhD candidate in the Department of Energy Science and Engineering at Stanford.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
3:30pm – 4:30pm
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Meeting ID: 995 9695 0090
Passcode: 153207

Decarbonizing transportation, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, depends on the widespread adoption of clean technologies like electric vehicles. Although electric vehicles don’t have tailpipe emissions, their air emissions depend on power plants that service the charging demand. Another alternative is efficient conventional vehicles that meet the strictest air pollution standards.

Using spatially explicit vehicle emissions, air quality modeling, and current power sector characterization, I compared the climate and health consequences of various electric vehicle models to the best-in-class conventional vehicles. The results show that electric vehicles generally have lower carbon emissions, PM2.5-related premature mortality, and pollution disparities. Health benefits are particularly large in cities and the western and northeastern United States. However, some regional electricity grids need further decarbonization for electric vehicles to provide climate and health benefits in comparison to efficient, low-polluting conventional vehicles. In these places, coal retirement needs to be expedited. Given the detailed modeling of the grid, I identified 50 power plants with the highest sulfur dioxide emissions that should be prioritized for retirement or carbon capture and storage to maximize the health benefits of transport electrification. Most of these plants are in the Ohio Valley and the Southern United States. Pollution from conventional vehicles, both old and new, continues to burden racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately due to the design of our built environment. Electric vehicles can substantially reduce these disparities. Finally, to achieve fleet-wide decarbonization, policies are needed to retire older conventional vehicles in addition to increasing electric vehicle adoption. In California, I find that retiring and replacing vehicles above 15 years, which contribute to the majority of vehicular air pollution, can substantially reduce cumulative climate and health damages along with achieving the state’s climate goals.

For more information, contact:
Ashley Parker

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.