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As we are all aware, the transportation industry is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.
A better way of measuring automotive GHG emissions is by using life-cycle assessment (LCA), which takes into account all of the emissions created during the life of a product from raw material production to product end-of-life. The NGC Rating expresses a vehicle's environmental impact as a score ranging from 0 for the greenest vehicles to 100+ for the most polluting. The NGC Rating assesses a vehicle's environmental impact over its whole life cycle – including vehicle use, fuel production and vehicle manufacture.
The Rating is designed to be easy-to-use and is expressed as a score out of 100 ranging from 0 for the greenest vehicles to 100+ for the most polluting. The NGC Rating was developed by Next Green Car and is a unique method of assessing the environmental impact of a vehicle. The Next Green Car Rating is based on an assessment of the life cycle emissions – not just those from the exhaust or 'tailpipe'.
As well as the tailpipe emissions produced during a vehicle's use, life cycle emissions include 'upstream' pollutants produced during fuel production (including primary production, extraction, transportation, and refining) and vehicle production (manufacture and assembly). This allows a realistic comparison between different vehicle and fuel types – for example, while diesel typically has lower tailpipe CO2 emissions than petrol, diesel emissions include higher levels of NOx and particulates.
The emissions assessed are: carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), hydrocarbons (HCs), particulates (PM), and sulphur dioxide (SO2). This enables a fair comparison of all conventional and alternative vehicle types – for example, hybrids offer better fuel economy, but also have higher manufacturing emissions.

It also means that zero-emission vehicles can be fairly assessed – while electric cars have zero tailpipe CO2, the NGC ratings take into account the emissions produced by electricity-generation and vehicles manufacture. Rather than just quantify the amount of each of the eight emissions, the NGC Rating assesses by the environmental impact of the emissions. Not only does this more accurately account for the impacts and location of different emissions, using the total environmental impact makes a comparison of eight emissions possible. The NGC Rating is designed to used by non-experts and is therefore expressed as a score out of 100 ranging from 0 for the greenest vehicles to 100+ for the most polluting. The NGC Rating is based on an assessment of the environmental impacts associated with a car's use and manufacture. The NGC Rating analysis first quantifies the extent of life cycle air emissions arising from the fuel and vehicle cycles (known as an emissions inventory).
The analysis then conducts an emissions impact assessment - as its name suggests, this quantifies the impacts of the emissions rather than just quantifying the amount of emissions produced. The emissions impact assessment is achieved by the use of an environmental rating tool first developed by the European Cleaner Drive Programme to assess the impacts associated with the fuel cycle. Using the NGC Rating system, the level of environmental impacts are expressed as a score between 0-100 - the lower the score, the less the environmental impact (this reverses the Cleaner Drive scores which were higher for lower emission vehicles). Input data for the NGC Rating methodology comes from number of reference sources including: the Vehicle Certification Agency (for vehicle or tailpipe emissions), and several academic papers that estimate the emissions produced during the production of materials used for vehicle manufacture. Regulators around the world are addressing this challenge by setting progressive automotive greenhouse gas emission limits, fuel economy standards or a combination of both, concentrating on tailpipe emissions only.

Next Green Car's database includes Ratings for over 50,000 UK models registered since 2001. This includes all aspects of producing and using the fuel - the fuel cycle (primary production, extraction, transportation, refining, and vehicle operation), as well as the vehicle's manufacture, assembly and disposal - the vehicle cycle. The air emissions assessed include the so-called 'regulated emissions' - carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), non-methane organic gases (NMOG) and particulates (PM) - and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The advantage of this approach is that the varying levels of all the emissions assessed can be combined to produce an overall environmental impact - without this approach it is difficult to know how to compare (for example) a car with high CO2 and low NOx, with a second vehicle that has low CO2 and high NOx. This rating system uses recognized 'external costs' to establish the relative weight to attach to different emissions - the external costs are values expressed in monetary terms that reflect the overall damage to the environment and to human health.
We are encouraged by these aggressive measures to improve the environmental impact of passenger vehicles and commend their progress. Ratings are available for petrol, diesel, hybrid, electric, biofuel, LPG and natural gas vehicles. The analysis used by Next Green Car extends the Cleaner Drive method to include vehicle cycle (car manufacture and assembly).

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