Program for Vehicle Regulatory Reform: Assessing Life Cycle-Based Greenhouse Gas Standards

Principal Investigator: Alissa Kendall | University of California, Davis

Current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards and energy economy standards for passenger vehicles only address vehicle operation, omitting vehicle production emissions and other life cycle emissions. Non-operation emissions are more dominant in electric drive vehicles and many other advanced technology vehicles, technologies seen as critical to achieving significant GHG reductions from the light-duty vehicle (LDV) sector. This research examines the need, effectiveness, and policy strategies for capturing life cycle vehicle emissions in LDV GHG emissions standards. The research will develop and use a coupled system dynamics model and a time-based life cycle assessment (LCA) model for vehicles and fleets to examine net changes to GHG emissions from the LDV sector when life-cycle standards are not in place, the scope of life cycle emissions standards required to best reduce life cycle emissions, implementation strategies for life cycle-based policies, and the effect of product-oriented GHG standards for vehicles when coupled with cap-and-trade or other regional, national, or international policies for managing industrial sector emissions.  The time-based LCA model will reflect changing vehicle production, operation, and disposal emissions over time by capturing changing resource use for primary materials, changing fuel and electricity GHG intensity over time, and changes to recycling infrastructure and rates.

This study will be take place over three years. The first year is focused on developing the life cycle light-duty fleet model that forms the basis of this research. This model is time-based, reflecting changes in vehicle production, operation, and disposal emissions by capturing changing technology, resource use for primary materials, changing fuel and electricity GHG intensity over time, and changes to recycling infrastructure and rates. The life cycle model will be coupled with a system dynamics model by the end of year-one research. The coupled model will be refined and then used during year 2 to examine net changes to GHG emissions from the LDV sector under different GHG emissions policies (operation-only versus life cycle-based), and will be used to compare implementation strategies for life cycle-based policies, such as product-oriented GHG standards for vehicles when coupled with other regional, national, or international policies for managing industrial sector emissions.

Status: In Progress
Funding: $98,931.44
Sponsors: US DOT

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