Consequential Life Cycle Assessment of multi-modal mobility policies - the case of Luxembourg (CONNECTING)
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a universally recognized methodology aiming at quantifying the environmental impacts of a product or a process throughout its lifecycle. The methodology, which is governed by ISO 14040-44 standards, includes the lifecycle inventory of pollutant emissions and resources extractions generated by a product or process (LCI) and further the assessment of the related environmental impacts (LCIA). A specific LCA approach, called consequential LCA (C-LCA), is increasingly developed and used to assess the environmental consequences of strategic (policy) actions affecting large scale systems and markets, from a decision making support perspective. Recent works on the application of LCA to the analysis of complex systems unveiled research paths for deepening this methodology. Among these, the use of modelling tools from social sciences, like Agent Based Modelling (ABM), is a pioneering approach offering interesting opportunities to derive more consistent and realistic life cycle inventories. A seminal example of large scale systems requiring the development of ad hoc consequential LCA methodologies, and at the same time offering unique opportunities for research due to its specificities, is the one of mobility. Indeed, the role of human behavior and the large number of (types of) agent composing a mobility system imposes methodological challenges to the evaluation of the environmental impacts engendered by policy actions or scenarios affecting the system, e.g. the promotion of electric vehicles for individual transportation. Furthermore, the significance of mobility, in terms of overall environmental impact generated in the current economy as well as of its policy relevance, undoubtedly points out the stakes associated to the environmental assessment of different mobility solutions.
At the Luxembourg’s level, policy actions related to electric mobility are of the highest importance and strategic for the fulfilment of CO2 reduction objectives. In order to cut the CO2 emissions by 20% until 2020, Luxembourg targets an introduction of 40,000 electric vehicles (EVs, corresponding to 10% of the vehicles’ fleet) by this time horizon. The specific situation of Luxembourg, employing 150,000 commuters per day, raises additional issues related to the recharge and use of the EVs. The multi-modal dimension, with the combination of EVs for individual transportation with public transport (buses, trains), enlarges the scope of the analysis, both in terms of policy actions to be defined and evaluated and of simulation complexity. The broad research question tackled by CONNECTING is therefore: how to assess the (positive and negative) environmental consequences of policy actions related to the future mobility challenges of society? More specifically, considering the national specificities the main objective of CONNECTING focuses on proposing an operational approach for C-LCA of mobility scenarios, rooted on the development of an integrated agent based-environmental assessment model for the specific case of Luxembourg’s cross-border commuters and their mode choice behavior. To this aim, the project will combine competences, models and results currently developed in the two research groups involved (LIST and LISER) and develop them further in a synergic way, following a precise research strategy. In this connection, CONNECTING plays a pivotal role for its successful implementation, the consolidation of the competences and the international visibility of the partners.