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Heterogeneous Impact of Electrification of Road Transport on Premature Deaths from Outdoor Air Pollution: A Macroeconomic Evidence from 29 European Countries

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One of the biggest problems associated with vehicles that use internal combustion engines is that they cause elevated levels of pollution in the places they travel through, especially if they cause congestion. However, it is not only the level, but also probably the concentration of gases emitted by internal combustion engines in the places where they move around that is particularly lethal. Can the road transport sector’s electrification mitigate premature deaths from outdoor air pollution? Our main hypothesis is that replacing internal combustion engine vehicles with electrical ones contributes to mitigating people’s exposure to high concentrations of air pollution. To answer the research question, a panel of 29 European countries, from 2010 to 2020, using the method of moments quantile regression and ordinary least squares, was examined. Results support the concept that economic growth, renewable energy consumption, and electric vehicles in all quantiles have a negative impact on premature mortality due to air pollution. These impacts are higher on premature mortality in lower quantiles, but gradually decrease with increasing quantile levels. The results also reveal that methane emissions, in all quantiles except 10th, have a negative effect on premature mortality. Nitrous oxide emissions positively impact premature mortality in all quantiles except the 10th, and this impact increases at high quantiles. Fine particulate matter positively impacts premature mortality in all quantiles, with the same at all levels. The ordinary least squares, used as a robustness check, confirm that economic growth, renewable energy consumption, and methane emissions have reduced impacts on premature mortality due to outdoor air pollution. However, nitrous oxide emissions and fine particulate matter increase premature mortality. These results reinforce the importance of policymakers implementing policies for road electrification.

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