Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with petroleum accounting for 90 percent of transportation fuels. Policymakers encounter a range of questions as they consider low-carbon fuel standards to reduce emissions, including total emissions released from production to use of a fuel or the potential consequences of a policy. Life-cycle assessment is an essential tool for addressing these questions. This report provides researchers and practitioners with a toolkit for applying life-cycle assessment to estimate greenhouse gas emissions, including identification of the best approach to use for a stated policy goal, how to reduce uncertainty and variability through verification and certification, and the core assumptions that can be applied to various fuel types. Policymakers should still use a tailored approach for each fuel type, given that petroleum-based ground, air, and marine transportation fuels necessitate different considerations than alternative fuels including biofuels, hydrogen, and electricity. Ultimately, life-cycle assessments should clearly document what assumptions and methods are used to ensure transparency.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Current Methods for Life-Cycle Analyses of Low-Carbon Transportation Fuels in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26402.
|Part I: Background and Policy Context for Life-Cycle Analysis||12-12|
|1 Introduction and Policy Context||13-17|
|2 Fundamentals of Life-Cycle Assessment||18-34|
|3 Life-Cycle Assessment in a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard Policy||35-47|
|Part II: General Considerations for Life-Cycle Analysis||48-48|
|4 Key Considerations: Direct and Indirect Effects, Uncertainty, Variability, and Scale of Production||49-73|
|6 Specific Methodological Issues Relevant to a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard||93-124|
|Part III: Specific Fuel Issues for Life-Cycle Analysis||125-125|
|7 Fossil and Gaseous Fuels for Road Transportation||126-141|
|8 Aviation and Maritime Fuels||142-156|
|10 Electricity as a Vehicle Fuel||186-202|
|Appendix A: Conclusions and Recommendations||203-214|
|Appendix B: Committee Members' Biographical Sketches||215-218|
|Appendix C: Open Session Agendas||219-220|
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