The surprising truth about vehicle life caps and greenhouse gas emissions

The surprising truth about vehicle life caps and greenhouse gas emissions
The surprising truth about vehicle life caps and greenhouse gas emissions

A new study in Environmental research: infrastructure and sustainability reveals that passenger vehicle life caps have limited effectiveness in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and may increase costs and material use.

Researchers find that lifespan caps on passenger vehicles have limited impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and could increase costs and material use.

Passenger vehicle life caps have little impact on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and can increase costs and material use. This is what a new study published in Environmental research: infrastructure and sustainability. Research shows that even though light-duty vehicles (LDVs) contribute 17% of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, imposing a 15-year lifespan cap on LDV fleets in a scenario of status quo will not lead to any meaningful results. reductions in GHG emissions.

To combat the lag in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, some have advocated limits on vehicle service years, called life caps. However, this study finds that lifespan caps aimed at driving adoption of electric vehicles could amplify some of the negative effects of electric vehicles, including increased use of critical materials and increased ecotoxicity linked to battery production . Furthermore, the costs of accelerated deployment of electric vehicles are estimated to be very high and often exceed current estimates of the social costs of carbon.

According to the study, lifetime caps are only effective when implemented alongside complementary strategies, such as reductions in the emissions intensity of the electricity grid, improvements in fuel consumption of vehicles and emissions reductions from automobile production in order to increase GHG emissions benefits, while reducing abatement costs.

The team, led by researchers at the University of Toronto, used the Fleet Life Cycle Assessment and Material Flow Estimation (FLAME) model, combined with comprehensive cost calculations and sensitivity analyzes for survival curves of electric vehicles and battery degradation, to assess efficiency and cost. -effectiveness of vehicle lifespan caps in reducing GHG emissions from light vehicle fleets in the United States.

Heather MacLean, professor in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto, says: “Lifetime caps can be a powerful tool for accelerating the benefits of new automotive technologies, particularly when it comes to reduce GHG emissions, but they can also accelerate costs. Our results show that although they may be suitable in certain situations, lifespan caps are better placed as part of a broader integrated strategy to combat transport GHG emissions.

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