Phasing in electric vehicles: Does policy focusing on operating emissions achieve Net Zero emission reduction objectives?

Kathryn Grace Logan* (Corresponding Author), John D. Nelson, Christian Brand, Astley Hastings

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are being integrated into the UK transport network to reduce operating emissions (OEs) as BEVs produce zero emission at point of use. True OEs depend upon fuel source emissions, and ‘cradle-to-grave’ life cycle emissions. This paper investigates method comparisons of a simple operation emissions model (OPEM) against a life cycle analysis (LCA) (Transport Energy and Air Pollution Model (TEAM-UK)) approach to inform on the UK’s target to achieve net zero emissions. Emission comparisons from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) and BEVs between 2017 and 2050 using TEAM-UK (estimating both OEs and full LCA) and the OPEM (OEs only) across three vehicle scenarios were analysed: (S1) 100% ICEVs, (S2) new ICEVs banned from 2040, and (S3) new ICEVs banned from 2030. Both model outputs varied between scenarios. The OPEM predicted 19% more emissions in S1 (OEs only comparison). Differences between methods in S2 and S3 were minimal (<0.1% and <3% respectively). Comparing the LCA with its own OE estimate indicates OEs remain at approximately 40% of total emissions suggesting they are a strong candidate for monitoring and policy targeting. These comparisons would imply the simpler OE approach is robust for a precautionary approach to assessing changes in OEs for policy implementation impact assessments of ultra-low emission vehicle initiatives. Development of future emission policies should consider both LCA and OPEMs, as although LCAs give more complete results, OPEMs can provide rapid, low data requirement, useful policy guidance. A stringent shift towards earlier BEV adoption is recommended, however, to approach net zero emissions a mode shift away from private cars is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-114
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research. Part A, Policy and Practice
Early online date20 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Carbon dioxide emissions
  • Electric vehicles
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Operating emissions
  • Impact Evaluation


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