Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Forestry and Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Gillingham, Kenneth


Greenhouse-gas emitting human activities have caused the warming of the earth surface temperature by 0.97°C relative to pre-industrial levels. In order to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate change, most countries are committed to pursue action to limit global warming to well below 2°C under the Paris Agreement. Global transportation is the single largest user of energy as well as the largest carbon-dioxide emitting end-use sector, chiefly driven by passenger vehicles. Emissions caused by vehicles do not only occur at the vehicle tailpipe though. Pollutants are released along the entire vehicle supply chain, ranging from electric power plant discharges for electric vehicle charging, to industrial emissions from vehicle manufacturing and fuel processing. Detailed process models are used in this work in order to quantify the environmental burden of vehicle emissions along the entire supply chain. It is further investigated how these emissions can be mitigated, focusing on material efficiency and fueling behavior. These and other polluting processes are usually insufficiently considered in aggregate models of climate change mitigation. Therefore, it is also explored how the representation of vehicle supply chain emissions can be improved in these models. Finally, an integration of supply chain emissions with a climate change mitigation model of the US economy is achieved and several insights are gained from that exercise. It is shown that these emissions can significantly affect the composition of the US vehicle fleet and thus, the optimal climate change mitigation pathway of the US vehicle sector. In summary, this work contributes to a better understanding of future emissions of low-carbon vehicle systems. The results can guide future transport policy and investment decisions regarding low-carbon vehicle technology portfolios and their supporting infrastructure.