Life Cycle Assessment Regulations Can Benefit Automotive Sector

WorldAutoSteel to Raise Awareness of Value of LCA throughout October 2017

During the month of October 2017, the automotive arm of the World Steel Association, WorldAutoSteel, will help to educate and inform decision-makers about the benefits of using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to measure the environmental impact of automobiles.

The LCA approach assesses a product’s total impact on the environment by considering the affects from all stages of manufacturing, product use, end of life, and recycling. Indeed, it is important to ensure that efforts to curb vehicle emissions at one stage of the life cycle are not off-set by an increase in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in another stage of the life cycle.

“From the 1960’s, most major developed countries began to introduce legislation to reduce automobile emissions in response to growing human health and environmental concerns,” says Russ Balzer, Technical Director, WorldAutoSteel. “Many pollutants were significantly reduced by: the removal of lead from gasoline, the addition of catalytic converters and increased efficiency through advances in power train technology. However, GHG emissions remain a major unresolved issue because of their contribution to climate change.”

In response to this very real threat, policy makers across the world are implementing regulations in a collective attempt to curb the GHG emissions released by automobiles into the environment. Consequently, CO2-legislation focuses on the use phase only, i.e., on tailpipe CO2 emissions. This bears a risk of unintended consequences, as reductions in the use phase can come along with increasing CO2 emissions in the production or end of life phase. Thus, a pure focus on the use phase is not sustainable anymore, and what is needed now is a paradigm shift towards considering life cycle CO2 (or GHG) emissions, Balzer explains.
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“The global automotive steel industry proposes that the better way to measure vehicle emissions is through life cycle assessment,” says Balzer.

WorldAutoSteel will provide information during the month of October that policy makers, global automakers, non-government organizations, and consumers can review to make informed decisions. The findings will include results of studies conducted by academic research organizations.

“LCA is the best way to account for and reduce GHG emissions,” says Balzer.

You can learn more about the advantages of using LCA to measure the environmental impact of automobiles by reviewing the many informative articles and resources under our Life Cycle Thinking menu.

 

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