Environmental justice impacts of zero-emission vehicles

January 3, 2023
Authors: ICF

Despite rapid growth in adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) across the globe, only a small number of countries and regions—mainly the United States, China, and Northern Europe—claim most of the ZEV market share, while ZEV sales in other nations have less momentum. Even within countries with high ZEV sales, significant disparities in ZEV ownership and operation exist between lower-income regions (the bottom 20%) and higher-income ones (the top 20%). ZEVs have great potential to improve public health, air quality, energy independence, and sustainability; however, challenges exist with respect to ZEV affordability and equitable access to fuelling and charging infrastructure. And questions arise regarding how best to align policy interventions with considerations of equity (e.g., by ensuring access by lower income groups), environmental justice (EJ), and the global common good (e.g., emissions reductions).

Sponsored by the International ZEV Alliance, this report highlights the existing disparity in ZEV ownership, quantifies the EJ benefits of ZEVs, and provides policy and program recommendations that government agencies can implement to enhance the EJ outcomes of their ZEV policies. Three ZEV markets — California, Michigan, and England — were selected for quantitative analysis of disparities in ZEV adoption, and of the major factors driving them in each market.

In addition to the quantitative analysis, the project team conducted a comprehensive EJ stakeholder engagement in the three markets to identify major barriers to adoption of ZEVs within lower-income regions and disadvantaged communities. The engagement identified policies that local jurisdictions and governments could embrace to increase ZEV adoption and operation in disadvantaged communities. We conducted semi-structured interviews and online workshops with 15 EJ experts and engaged with 24 organizations dedicated to EJ across these three markets.

Focus Areas

Environmental justice impacts of ZEVs