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A Systemic View of Future Mobility Scenario Impacts on and Their Implications for City Organizational LCA: The Case of Autonomous Driving in Vienna

Cremer, Alexander; Müller, Katrin; Finkbeiner, Matthias

Autonomous vehicles (AV) are expected to significantly reshape urban mobility. Whether advancements at vehicle level also translate into positive environmental outcomes at city level is still uncertain. We investigate under which conditions a city could enable low emission AV mobility and what challenges are to be expected along the way from an environmental point of view. We build upon our recent environmental performance study of Vienna and combine city organizational life cycle assessment (city-OLCA) with AV transport models from literature for three AV use cases: an own AV, a shared AV, and a shared AV ride service. Most cases lower Vienna’s passenger capacity (by up to 28%) and increase motorized road traffic by a maximum of 49% (own AVs). Traffic relief is observed for shared AVs (−40%) if accompanied by a conventional car ban. This case reduces transport related GHG emissions compared to both Vienna’s current baseline (−60%) and a future electrified transportation system (−4.2%). These transformations have also shifted emission responsibility to the public level. While Vienna’s total GHG emissions could be reduced by 12%, the city’s emission responsibility increases from 25% to 32%. Efficient mass transit, the electrification of the mobility sector and grid decarbonization are key to reducing transport emissions in Vienna. The direction of GHG emission development will be determined by the extent to which these conditions are promoted. AV mobility probably will not be a main contributor.
Published in: Sustainability, 10.3390/su14010158, MDPI