Report: Switching to EVs could save £325m in health costs

If every new car in 2019 were electric it would help save more than £325m in health costs in the first year, according to new analysis which found that the health impact costs of diesel cars are far higher than petrol or electric counterparts.

As a nation, health costs associated with vehicle emissions reach £6bn annually

As a nation, health costs associated with vehicle emissions reach £6bn annually

Researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Bath found damaging health impacts associated with diesel vehicle emissions are around 20 times higher than EVs and at least five times higher than that of petrol vehicles.

According to Global Action Plan, which commissioned the report ahead of Clean Air Day (21 June), swapping at least 25% of diesel journeys in urban areas to walking or cycling would save more than £1.1bn on health costs associated with air pollution. Switching one million journeys to EVs would also deliver economic health benefits to the tune of £360m annually.

Global Action Plan produced a league table off the back of the findings, noting that London’s vehicle bill to the NHS reaches more than £600m. As a nation, the costs spiral to £6bn annually.

The University of Bath’s lecturer in environmental economics Dr Alistair Hunt added: “Our research for the first time illustrates the individual cost that each car and van has on the NHS and wider society. Every time these vehicles are driven, they are having a significant impact on our health, equivalent to £7,714 for an average inner London car over its lifetime.”

The researchers used impact analysis from Defra and COMEAP, alongside fleet make up, pollutant emissions and miles driven to create a model to calculate individual vehicle damage costs.

Death by diesel driving

Reports suggest that exposure to PM2.5 and NOX – which are some of the main particulate emissions from diesel vehicles – contribute to 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.

The UK Government has pledged to ban sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 in a bid to improve air pollution standards that have seen ministers dragged to court on numerous occasions.

Notably, emissions tests that are impossible for carmakers to cheat show that almost all diesel car models launched in Europe since the "dieselgate" scandal remain highly polluting.

Global Action Plan is promoting Clean Air Day in response to the worrying trends regarding local air quality levels. In a recent blog post for edie, the charity’s head of health and coordinator of Clean Air Day, Larissa Lockwood, noted what businesses can do to limit staff exposure to damaging air pollution.

Global Action Plan’s senior partner, Chris Large, added: “This report clearly illustrates the true cost of air pollution from each petrol and diesel car and van, particularly in inner cities. Swapping 1 in 4 car journeys in urban areas for walking or cycling could save over £1.1bn in health damage costs per year. Switching 1 million cars from diesel to electric would save more than £360m per year in health costs from local air pollution.

"This demonstrates the impact that people’s individual choices can have, so we would look to the government to use Clean Air Day as a springboard for year round public engagement through its new clean air strategy.’”

Matt Mace


air quality | NHS | vehicle emissions | low-carbon


Energy efficiency & low-carbon

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