A new report by the University of California at Berkeley makes several bold claims. First, it says all new cars and trucks sold in the US can be electric by 2035. Second, making the transition to electric vehicles will save American households $1000 a year on average between now and 2050, for total savings of $2.7 trillion. Third, the transition to electric cars and trucks will create a net gain of 2 million jobs. Fourth, the changeover will prevent 150,000 premature deaths and avoid $1.3 trillion in environmental and health costs through 2050.
In summary, the EV revolution will net the US economy 2 million new jobs and allow the nation to reap direct and indirect savings of $4 trillion in the next 30 years. How is all that possible? Check out the report for yourself.
“The case for electric vehicles is stronger than ever before and one of the most exciting findings of this study is the potential for large savings for all households. With the right policies and infrastructure, electric cars and trucks will be much cheaper to own and operate,” says Dr. Nikit Abhyankar, senior scientist at the University of California’s Berkeley Center for Environmental Public Policy.
The uptake of electric cars and trucks can go much faster than previously forecast and is already exceeding market projections,” says senior scientist Dr. Amol Phadke. “The performance and cost of the technology are ready to meet the needs of American drivers today, and the necessary charging infrastructure can be built cost-effectively without straining electricity grids.”
Electric Cars & The Electrical Grid
The key to the study findings is transitioning to an energy grid that relies almost exclusively on power generation from zero carbon sources. The report finds that by 2030, the US could electrify all new car sales and over 80% of new truck sales, power them with 90% clean electricity, and reduce US economy-wide climate pollution emissions by 35%. If aggressive building and industrial electrification strategies are pursued on a similar timeline, US economy-wide climate pollution could be reduced 45% by 2030.
The report underscores the benefits of the climate policy and electric car initiatives proposed by President Biden, who is scheduled to conduct a global climate conference with 40 world leaders this week in conjunction with Earth Day.
“There are significant, economy-wide benefits from switching to electric cars and trucks. Many of the health benefits will occur in communities of color and frontline communities that are disproportionately exposed to vehicle pollution,” says Professor David Wooley, the executive director of the Center for Environmental Public Policy at UC-Berkeley. “But these benefits will simply not be realized without ambition and leadership on the part of policymakers and decision makers. Every year America stalls, our vehicle and battery manufacturing industries fall behind in global competitiveness, consumers are saddled with higher costs, and we miss the ever-narrowing window to address the climate crisis and ensure a livable planet.”
Total Cost Of Ownership
The 2035 Report 2.0 models the total cost of ownership for gasoline and electric vehicles. It finds that electric trucks are already cheaper to own than diesel versions on a total cost-per-mile basis, and electric cars will be cheaper than gasoline equivalents within the next five years. The study models public charging infrastructure, estimating the number and cost of the public charging ports needed to accommodate tens of millions of electric cars and trucks, the power supplies needed to meet the increased power demand from this shift, and the capital investment needed to achieve an accelerated transition.
A companion policy report, Accelerating Clean, Electrified Transportation by 2035: Policy Priorities, by the nonpartisan policy firm Energy Innovation, lays out the federal, state, and local policy pathways needed to electrify all new car and truck sales by 2035. These include strengthened federal fuel efficiency standards, zero emission vehicle standards, financial incentives and labor standards to encourage domestic manufacturing and sales of electric cars and trucks. “With political leadership, policy ambition, and a focus on an equitable transition for all, the U.S. can chart the course for a clean transportation future,” says Sara Baldwin, director of electrification policy at Energy Innovation.
The Biden administration is proposing bold policy initiatives both in the transportation and energy sectors that the Berkeley study calls for. It is vital that those initiatives move forward, but there is fierce pushback from reactionaries who owe their election success to funding from the fossil fuel industry. You might think members of Congress would want to represent the wishes of their constituents, but you would be wrong.
The biggest barrier to lowering emissions from the transportation and energy sectors is politicians who are willing to sell their souls to stay in office. While we are cheering on the EV revolution, we must at the same time push for measures that reduce the influence of money in politics. What we have now is government for sale to the highest bidder, and that is a recipe for disaster.
Featured image courtesy of Volkswagen.