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Time for move away from tailpipe carbon measure, says lowCVP

The action and advisory group, which looks to accelerate a sustainable shift to low carbon vehicles and fuels in the UK, has highlighted that currently about 80% of greenhouse gas emissions occur during the “in-use” phase of a vehicle’s life. However, the introduction of plug-in electric vehicles means that more and more of the total carbon emissions from cars and other vehicles will occur at the power station, and during the production and disposal of vehicles and fuels.

The new report – “Life Cycle CO2e Assessment of Low Carbon Cars 2020-2030” – shows that the clear trend is that the use of tailpipe CO2 emissions as an established comparator for different vehicles will become less effective, and almost irrelevant in terms of identifying the true carbon profiles and reduction potential, for future vehicles.

The report was prepared for the LowCVP by PE International and validated by Partnership stakeholders and builds on an earlier study, “Preparing for a Life Cycle CO2 Measure” written for the LowCVP by Ricardo, which concluded that future CO2e metrics for passenger cars need to go “beyond the tailpipe” and take account of whole life cycle CO2e emissions to more fully account for environmental impacts. 

Andy Eastlake, managing director of the lowCVP, said: ‘This new report indicates that it is time to move on from the current tailpipe carbon measure, but whole vehicle life cycle analysis is a very complex process and further work is needed. 

‘With the in-use phase continuing to dominate vehicle impact for at least the next decade the LowCVP is calling for the UK to lead the way in incorporating the new test-cycle and a well-to-wheel approach to fuel consumption and vehicle efficiency to provide both industry and consumers with better information on the carbon impact of their vehicles.’

The PE International report has been published to coincide with the LowCVP’s Annual Conference today (11th July) on the theme of “Beyond the Tailpipe”, which includes senior representatives of the Committee on Climate Change; European Commission; Department for Transport; UK Petroleum Industry Association; EDF Energy; Carbon Trust; Energy Saving Trust; Jaguar Land Rover; RAC Foundation BMW; WhatCar?; Ricardo-AEA; Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders; Transport and Environment (T&E) and others.

Natalie Middleton

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