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Fueling Life-Cycle Assessment: Lessons from the Life-Cycle Assessment of Transport Fuels

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Abstract: LCA frameworks and studies investigating the life-cycle aspects of products appeared in the 1960s. However, LCA has not been widely adopted by policy makers and has only been integrated into regulatory frameworks as an obligatory element a handful of times. This paper analyses the most prominent policies that successfully incorporate mandatory LCA frameworks: policies targeted at decreasing the GHG emission of transport fuels; specifically, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Firstly, the paper introduces the RED and the LCFS, discusses the overarching goals of these policies and their legal implementation. Secondly, the paper analyses how LCA is integrated into the RED and the LCFS, and how it supports the achievement of the goals of these policies. This includes the analysis of the policies’ segmentation of transport fuels’ life cycles, the regulated parties’ range of options to show compliance, and how the policies address problem-shifting. Thirdly, the paper discusses how and to what extent the policy design choices made by the RED and the LCFS can be used for creating LCA policies for other products.

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