Lesson 5: Impact categories in LCA – Climate Change or Global Warming Potential

Understanding the Role of Global Warming Potential (GWP) in Life Cycle Assessment


  • Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a critical impact category in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
  • GWP quantifies the relative contribution of greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.
  • It measures the heat-trapping capacity of gases like CO2, CH4, and N2O, enabling comparisons by converting emissions into CO2 equivalents.

GWP IN Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA)

  • GWP assessment in LCIA identifies the climate change impact of products and processes.
  • It guides efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate global warming effects, and promote sustainable practices.


  • Let’s explore the impact of GWP in different aspects of the automotive industry:

Fuel Combustion

  • The use phase of vehicles, particularly fuel combustion, releases CO2, a potent greenhouse gas, contributing to GWP.
  • This emphasizes the importance of fuel efficiency and alternative fuels to reduce emissions.

Air Conditioning Refrigerants

  • Some vehicle air conditioning systems use HFC refrigerants with high GWP.
  • Leaks or improper disposal of these refrigerants during the use phase can contribute to GWP.
  • Implementing environmentally friendly refrigerants is essential.

Tire Wear and Rolling Resistance

  • During vehicle use, tire rolling resistance increases fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
  • Additionally, the manufacturing and disposal of tires have associated emissions contributing to GWP.
  • Opting for low-resistance tires and proper tire maintenance can help reduce this impact.

Vehicle Maintenance

  • Inadequate vehicle maintenance, such as engine tuning or malfunctioning emission control systems, can result in higher greenhouse gas emissions during the use phase, contributing to GWP.
  • Regular maintenance and emission control are crucial for minimizing this impact.

Aerodynamic Drag

  • Poor aerodynamics, like roof racks or open windows, increase air resistance during vehicle use.
  • This leads to higher fuel consumption and emissions, contributing to GWP.
  • Streamlining vehicle design and reducing drag-inducing accessories can mitigate this impact.


  • GWP plays a pivotal role in assessing the climate change impact of products and processes.
  • The automotive industry must prioritize fuel efficiency, emissions reduction, and the use of low-GWP refrigerants.
  • Minimizing GWP in vehicle maintenance, tire wear, and addressing aerodynamic drag is essential for sustainable practices and mitigating global warming effects.
  • Comprehensive LCA helps in identifying and addressing GWP-related issues for more sustainable and eco-friendly vehicles.
  • Among the most serious impacts are those with negative effects on humans, water, and soil.
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