UM study explores link between electric vehicle sales and emissions reduction goals
New research from the University of Michigan explores how increasing electric vehicle (EV) sales could help meet the U.S.' greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals outlined by the Biden administration. President Joe Biden's National Climate Task Force aims to reduce emissions to 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Transportation is the number one greenhouse gas emitting sector in the U.S, with most of the emissions coming from light-duty vehicles: passenger vehicles such as sedans and SUVs.
The new study found that if EV sales increase to 50% by 2030, the U.S. could see a 25% reduction in light-duty vehicle emissions by the same year. If EV sales goals and grid decarbonization goals are both met by 2035, light-duty vehicle emissions reductions could reach 50% around that time.
Maxwell Woody is the lead author of the study. He said that there are three main barriers to people purchasing an EV: concerns about vehicle range, charger availability, and the upfront cost of EVs.
"All three of those things are things that we can work on and improve: increasing incentives for EVs will help with the cost barrier, increasing the buildout of public charging stations and making home charging stations more affordable; that will really help," Woody said.
The study concluded that increasing electric vehicle sales alone won't be enough to hit the national target for emissions reduction; rather, a combination of strategies will be most effective in hitting the target.
"Electrification's going to play a big role, but by itself that's not going to be enough. We can get there pretty close to on time if we combine our electrification goals with other strategies, like reducing vehicle miles traveled, or shifting to smaller vehicles, increasing walking and biking and public transit, those additional actions that we can stack on top of our electric vehicle sales to decarbonize light-duty vehicles," Woody said.
The other authors of the study are Greg Keoleian, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Systems, and Parth Vaishnav, professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability.