Plugging In: How Much Will Electric Vehicles Drive Decarbonization?

A conversation on the environmental benefits of plug-in electric vehicles and issues related to policies, markets, and the power sector

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Jan. 13, 2023


12:30–1:30 p.m. ET

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RFF Live

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The transportation sector accounts for nearly a third of US greenhouse gas emissions—more than any other sector of the economy. Passenger vehicles, responsible for most of the sector’s emissions, are also major contributors to local air quality concerns. Plug-in electric vehicles have the potential to greatly reduce emissions and associated health damage from the passenger vehicle fleet. But what's the full extent of plug-in vehicles' effects on decarbonization strategies and their associated benefits? How much will plug-in vehicles ultimately reduce emissions and health damage once the effects of gasoline vehicle usage and power plant emissions are accounted for?

New research from Resources for the Future (RFF) projects the climate, air pollution, and health benefits of plug-in EVs under different policy and market forces. The study finds that the benefits of EVs are complex and vary widely depending on market forces and which decarbonization policies are adopted.

On Friday, January 13, RFF hosted an event presenting these findings and examining the broader benefits and costs of plug-in electric vehicles. Our panel of experts joined us to unpack the complexities and benefits of widespread EV adoption, particularly in the context of recent policy packages—including the Inflation Reduction Act—which stand to greatly incentivize EV deployment.


  • Therese Langer, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
  • Joshua Linn, Resources for the Future
  • Daniel Shawhan, Resources for the Future
  • Daniel Sperling, University of California, Davis
  • Tanya Snyder, POLITICO (Moderator)

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