Understanding the air quality and health impacts of large-scale vehicle electrification in India

Electrification Zero-emission vehicles
Clean air

This is a companion to our working paper that estimated the vehicle tailpipe and power sector emissions impacts of large-scale vehicle electrification in India through 2040 under various scenarios representing plausible evolutions of the electricity grid. The authors take those emissions results and analyze the air quality and health impacts of the “Ambitious EV” scenario between 2020 and 2040, with and without robust power sector emission control and decarbonization strategies.

Even when assuming no new policies to decarbonize the power sector or tighten power plant emission controls (“Reference” or REF scenario), results show that vehicle electrification leads to net air quality and health benefits in India, including significant reductions in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) nationally in both 2030 and 2040. While improved power plant emission controls (IEC scenario) play a larger role than coal phase-out (CP scenario) in driving PM2.5 concentration reductions compared to the Baseline in 2030 and 2040, the combination of the two strategies (COM scenario) results in the greatest air quality benefits. In 2030, the PM2.5 concentration reduction from the Baseline is 2.88 μg/m3 in COM, and in 2040, with higher levels of EV deployment, the air quality benefits compared to the Baseline that year are even larger, 4.52 μg/m3 in COM. The COM strategy results in as many as 31,500 and 70,400 annual avoided premature deaths in 2030 and 2040, respectively (figure below), and that is in line with as much as $80.7 billion (2020 U.S. dollars) in avoided health costs in 2040.