New Study Finds California’s Zero-Emission Cars Standards Could Save Lives, Reduce Pollution, Save Californians Money

May 4, 2021
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718,

(May 4, 2021) California could save more than 7,000 lives by 2050, significantly reduce smog and climate pollution, and save new car buyers thousands of dollars if the state adopts Advanced Clean Car II standards that ensure all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold are zero-emitting vehicles by 2035, according to a new report by Environmental Defense Fund.

EDF’s report comes ahead of the California Air Resources Board’s public workshop this week on the next generation of the state’s Advanced Clean Cars standards.

“Zero-emission vehicle standards will save lives, reduce dangerous pollution, deliver jobs and save Californians’ hard-earned money,” said EDF senior attorney Alice Henderson. “Our analysis found extensive health, economic and environmental benefits for Californians from protective clean car standards, including substantial reductions in pollution that disproportionately burdens low-income communities and communities of color.”

The California Air Resources Board is now developing the state’s Advanced Clean Cars II program, which will build from the state’s long history of advancing vehicle pollution reductions under Clean Air Act authority. The Advanced Clean Cars II program should reflect Governor Newsom’s September 2020 executive order establishing a state target that all new passenger vehicles sold in California be zero-emission by 2035. The Air Resources Board will hold its public workshop on Thursday, May 6.

The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s climate pollution, 80 percent of its smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of its toxic diesel emissions.

According to EDF’s analysis, if all new cars, SUVs and passenger trucks sold in California are zero-emission starting by 2035, it could:

  • Prevent up to 7,406 premature deaths in total by 2050
  • Eliminate more than 1.2 billion tons of climate pollution by 2050
  • Significantly reduce the smog-forming and particulate pollution that is linked to asthma attacks, bronchitis and heart attacks
  • Save Californians who buy a new zero-emission car or SUV in 2035 more than $13,000 over the life of the vehicle, compared to a gas-powered car or SUV
  • Save the state of California $194 billion, cumulatively, by 2050 in health and economic benefits.

California’s clean car standards are already among the country’s most effective policies for reducing harmful motor vehicle air and climate pollution. Shifting to zero-emission vehicles will help further reduce pollution and save lives across the state.

Despite making substantial progress, many communities in California still have unhealthy air quality levels. The San Joaquin Valley, for instance, has the highest levels of fine particulate pollution in the nation, and another recent EDF study found that in the Bay Area alone more than 2,500 lives are lost and 5,200 children develop asthma every year because of traffic-related air pollution exposure.

Communities of color and low-income communities suffer disproportionately from motor vehicle pollution. According to the American Lung Association’s 2021 State of the Air report, people of color are more than three times more likely to breathe the most polluted air than white people.

Switching to zero-emission vehicles can also create jobs for Californians. The U.S. already has more than 273,000 jobs linked to clean vehicles and hybrids, including more than 40,000 jobs in California. Jobs in the electric vehicle industry alone grew more than six percent in 2020.

You can read more in EDF’s full report.

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 2.5 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund