Category: International organisations, Policies and measures

Electric vehicles from life cycle and circular economy perspectives

A report written for the European Environment Agency that used an extensive literature review to analyse and synthesis the environmental impacts of electric vehicles though life cycle and circular economy perspectives.

This research report, written by Aether for the European Environment Agency, brings together existing evidence on the environmental impact of battery electric vehicles across their life cycle. Where possible, comparisons are made to internal combustion engine vehicles. The report also considers how a move to a circular economy could reduce the environmental impacts.

The challenge

It is expected that electric vehicles will be a key component of Europe’s future mobility system, with the potential for contributing to a reduction in the impacts of climate change and air pollution. By 2030, battery electric vehicles could represent up to 13% of new car registrations in Europe. This requires a better understanding of the environmental impacts of electric vehicles and to consider how these can be reduced in order to maximise potential benefits.

The solution

This report contributes towards a better understanding of battery electric vehicles from a system perspective. This involves an in-depth consideration of the environmental impact of these vehicles across all life cycle stages as well as taking into account broader considerations with a circular economy perspective. The report highlights areas where improvements could be made to minimise the environmental impacts of battery electric vehicles. It also identifies gaps in understanding where additional research would contribute to a better understanding of these impacts.

The result

Aether produced the report, now published on the European Environment Agency website, here.

Some key findings of the report are:

  • Battery electric vehicles offer important opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution
  • There are areas where battery electric vehicles could have negative environmental impacts such as through raw material extraction
  • There are areas of uncertainty, for example with end-of-life processing
  • The evidence base on electric vehicle life cycle impacts needs to be continually updated and developed. This should reflect the different electric vehicle makes and models, emerging data on real-world use and vehicle end-of-life processes.

See all case studies

Richard German

Principal Consultant

Related case studies

Developing a comprehensive approach to nitrogen in the UK

Category: International organisations, Policies and measures

Aether, alongside project partners the Stockholm Environment Institute, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and Plantlife International, undertook a study for WWF of the nitrogen cycles and pathways in the UK and reviewed existing strategies and policies that could affect the balance of nitrogen in the environment.

Read case study

EU Forest Reference Levels

Category: International organisations, LULUCF

Aether provided support to the European Commission and the LULUCF Expert Group in the technical assessment of EU Member State's National Forestry Accounting Plans.

Read case study

2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines

Category: International organisations, Emission inventories

Justin Goodwin, Director at Aether, worked as part of a multi-national team on the 2019 Refinement of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

Read case study

News

Latest news

Posted on: 23 February 2024

Report published: Climate change mitigation through policies on waste – intersectoral analysis

A newly released briefing by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on the climate change mitigation benefits of circular economy and waste sector policies and measures features a technical report led by Aether, which explores the implementation of European waste policy and the linkages to other reporting sectors.

Read full story

Posted on: 20 February 2024

Report published: Guidance on limits of freight train trailing length as governed by tractive effort (T1302)

Aether contributed to a RSSB project led by Railfreight Consulting to develop a new methodology for calculating maximum trailing loads for freight trains.

Read full story

Posted on: 16 February 2024

Aether at the Task Force on International Cooperation on Air Pollution

Chris Dore and Annie Thornton were in Geneva this week to attend the Task Force on International Cooperation on Air Pollution.

Read full story

Posted on: 19 January 2024

Rethinking the role of the Local Plan in Net Zero: a whole plan carbon impact perspective

In response to the The Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) by Lee Rowley, this piece explores the role of the local plan in Net Zero strategy making and the opportunity presented to take a whole systems thinking approach to carbon emissions to solve the restriction of the viability model on local energy efficiency standards.

Read full story

Testimonial

Don't just take our word for it...

“The team at Aether works very professionally and communicates very well which makes working with them a pleasure. Outputs are delivered on time to high quality. The team brings the rigour of technical knowledge and expertise and finds innovative ways of communicating complex messages. I would be happy to recommend the Aether team to organisations working on analysing and presenting emissions information in the public domain.”

Fiona Glover, States of Jersey

“We have been collaborating with Aether for several years, and our projects have greatly benefited from it. Aether staff are very knowledgeable, professional and flexible - and last but not least, very friendly and a pleasure to work with.”

Umhverfisstofnun, Environment Agency of Iceland

“I must congratulate each of you for your professional and tireless efforts. Let me point out that this has been the 'neatest' in-country review expert review team I have coordinated, and it has been a real pleasure.”

UNFCCC Secretariat

“Saint Lucia embraces the professional approach with which this project was undertaken by Aether, particularly their ability to develop mentorship relations with local government experts. This provides a basis for ensuring that the pool of local experts remain engaged and recognized over successive processes.”

Annette Rattigan-Leo, Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer

“The support provided by Aether for this project was especially remarkable considering the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tools and methods used in order to engage local stakeholders really added value to the capacity building of the national team.”

Shanna Emmanuel, Saint Lucia BUR Project Coordinator

“It is always an absolute pleasure working with Aether. I always know what is expected of me. Their work ethic is of a very high standard and projects are always handled in a very professional manner. I have learnt many skills in terms of project management, quality control and workshop training styles from Aether and I hope to carry these principles forward in my own work. I look forward to collaborating with Aether more in the future.”

Luanne Stevens, Gondwana

“Aether's approach to couple innovative visualisation with high expertise manpower delivered valuable insights for our inventory work.”

Umweltbundesamt (Germany)

“The Aether team were a joy to work with and I would recommend the consultancy - the service provided throughout the process was exceptional.”

Clare Bayley, Defra

“It has been a pleasure to work with Chris Dore and Richard Claxton from Aether: they did their job in a very professional and timely manner. The workshop was organized and carried out in a cooperative spirit; the information provided to the workshop participants was complete and clear.”

Alina Novikova, UN/ECE Secretariat

“Aether delivered training workshops and generated learning materials for our SSN members, providing technical content in a manageable and comprehendible format. We particularly benefitted from their extensive knowledge and ability to interpret the needs of our members into the training materials.”

Jennifer Anderson, Sustainable Scotland Network

Required form 'ContactES' does not exist.