The U.S. transportation sector is responsible for almost 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country, but it is also electrifying at an unprecedented rate. In 2018, one million electric vehicles (EVs) were on the road, and analysis shows that about 20 million EVs will be deployed by 2030. Globally, this number could surpass 250 million EVs by the same year.  

Because EVs will play a critical role in decarbonizing the transportation sector, WRI is actively engaging in four key areas of work: 

Analyzing the Future Impact of EVs on the Grid 

Over the next decade, the United States will see EV deployment increase dramatically. To help cities, airports and other large energy consumers plan for more EVs in their communities, WRI partnered with the UPS Foundation to create a modeling tool that forecasts future EV load impacts on the local grid and assesses the impact of EVs on individual neighborhoods. 


Pairing EV Loads and Renewable Energy 

EVs are two to three times more energy-efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles and have no tailpipe emissions. However, reducing GHG emissions depends on the mix of generation sources on the grid used to charge them. In some cases, EVs could add substantial GHG emissions if they are charged primarily with fossil fuel-based generators. 

In response, several utilities, automakers, cities and charging providers across the country are offering pilot programs and rates designed to match EV loads with renewable energy. WRI’s work in this area explores the ways in which residential and commercial EV charging can increasingly pair with clean energy sources. 


Transportation Decarbonization Pathways and Vehicle Standards 

As the transportation sector decarbonizes, policymakers need to know when — and at what pace — EVs and other zero-emission technologies can replace conventional vehicle fleets. To help support policymakers, WRI leverages third-party economic analyses and modeling studies to assess the long-term impact of different EV adoption scenarios. 

In the past, WRI helped inform programs including the greenhouse gas and efficiency standards for vehicles, zero-emission vehicle standards, low-carbon fuel standards and purchase incentives. WRI’s New Climate Federalism project also provides recommendations for state, federal and local governments when transitioning to EVs. 

EV Purchasing Programs 

Governments and businesses can play a major role in supporting the transition to a zero-carbon transportation system by transitioning their own car, truck and bus fleets to EVs. WRI works with cities around the world to support the deployment of EVs, including buses, where electrification can provide significant health, climate and resilience benefits. WRI provides policy recommendations on how Congress can scale up programs to electrify school buses, support healthy communities and create jobs. 


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