5 reasons Houston should prioritize electric vehicle adoption in 2024
As urban populations increase and more vehicles hit the roads across the United States, the quality of the air is compromised, directly impacting health, environment, and quality of life ― especially for children, minorities, and other vulnerable populations. A 2023 study by Site Selection Group placed Houston at the vanguard of this trend, projecting the metro area to grow nearly 10 percent by 2028, eclipsing 8 million residents.
According to Evolve Houston, a nonprofit working to accelerate EV adoption by bringing together local public and private organizations, residents, and government, the transportation sector emits 47 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the Houston area.
In this context, electric vehicles offer a practical solution to mitigate the challenges posed by tailpipe emissions. Their adoption in urban settings has the potential to significantly improve air quality and enhance public health. It’s no wonder the upcoming Houston Auto Show will feature a dedicated EV Pavilion.
Here's a closer look at why Houston should be pushing for a more rapid transition to EVs:
- Children’s development is at stake: Early childhood is a critical period for brain development. However, toxic air pollutants can significantly inhibit this growth during these formative years. The consequences include impairing children’s cognitive capabilities in reading and math, akin to missing an entire month of elementary school.
- EVs counteract historical racial inequalities: Beyond being an environmental challenge, air pollution is a glaring racial and social justice issue. Areas with fewer White residents suffer almost triple the nitrogen dioxide levels compared to predominantly White zones, as highlighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Historically marginalized communities, often near major traffic corridors, endure heightened pollution exposure. Transitioning to EVs can help address these deeply ingrained environmental inequities.
- The health benefits are monumental: A brighter future awaits if EVs become mainstream. According to the American Lung Association, if all new vehicles sold by 2035 are zero-emission, the U.S. could see up to 89,300 fewer premature deaths by 2050. Additionally, asthma attacks might decline by 2 million, saving 10.7 million workdays and resulting in an incredible $978 billion in public health savings.
- Global success stories prove the benefits: The impact of mass EV adoption has already been demonstrated outside the U.S. For instance, Norway has seen a notable reduction in dangerous particle emissions since 87 percent of its new car sales are now fully electric. Likewise, California’s adoption of electric vehicles correlated with a 3.2% decrease in asthma-related ER visits between 2013 and 2019.
- Cities have the power and means to lead the way: Many global cities are trailblazers in the electric transition. New York City, with more than 4,000 government-owned EVs, is a prime example. Moreover, by electrifying their take-home fleets, cities can set a precedent for their communities. Seeing neighbors drive electric vehicles daily serves as a powerful endorsement, motivating nearby residents to make the switch. Incentives like public charging stations, free parking for EVs, rebates for home charger installations, reimbursing for charging at home, and reduced tolls, further bolster this movement.
Houstonians stand at a pivotal juncture. The choices made today concerning transportation will profoundly influence the health and well-being of residents tomorrow. The shift to electric vehicles is more than just an eco-friendly choice; it's a commitment to a brighter, cleaner future. By leading with action and vision, cities can create a legacy that upcoming generations will appreciate and thrive in.
Kate L. Harrison is the co-founder and head of marketing at MoveEV, an AI-backed EV transition company that helps organizations convert fleet and employee-owned gas vehicles to electric, and reimburse for charging at home.