Analysing CO2 lifecycle assessments in the mobility sector from cradle to grave

The Paris Agreement led to the European Union and Germany setting ambitious climate protection targets to reduce annual CO₂ emissions in all energy-consuming sectors.

In an effort to make this budget target tangible and measurable, the European Union and Germany have translated the budget into annual targets (e.g. 2030 and 2050) and into national and sector specific targets (energy, buildings, transport, industry, agriculture, land use and forestry sectors).

However, a geographically, sector and year specific approach is not suitable to manage the global climate problem effectively. According to the IPCC findings, limiting a further increase in the global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would only allow for a remaining budget of CO2 eq between 420 to 580 Gt CO2 eq that can be emitted into the atmosphere. Therefore, any meaningful technological choice has to be evaluated against its contribution to utilise this remaining budget effectively. This can only be achieved in a comprehensive, i.e. cross-sectoral, global and intertemporal, analysis.

Numerous international studies have so far been conducted on the climate impact of technologies across the life cycle. In particular, the passenger road transport sector has increasingly become a topic for debate, as the growing demand for mobility has made emission savings difficult.

To generate a comprehensive overview, Frontier recently undertook a study on behalf of FVV carrying out a meta-analysis,  examining life cycle assessments of different powertrain technologies of 80 international studies. Our study revealed the following results:

  • Despite a large available database, important information is lacking and more research is needed: no or little information is available for some life cycle steps (end-of-life and infrastructure) and some technology options (e.g. fuel cell electric vehicles).
  • There is no single superior technology from a climate protection perspective. Rather, the “location” of the emissions along the life cycle varies.
  • The individual use case is decisive for climate advantages. There is no one size fits all, but each consumer should be able to choose from a number of options.
  • In the long run all drive trains allow greenhouse gas neutral mobility. Thus, there is no dead end technology.


Click here to read the full study. FVV has set up a project-specific website, which collects additional material here

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