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Doctoral defence in Environment and Natural Resources - Kevin Dillman

Doctoral defence in Environment and Natural Resources  - Kevin Dillman - Available at University of Iceland
Wed, 15/12/2021 - 13:00 to 15:00

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Ph.D. student: Kevin Dillman

Dissertation title: Electric Vehicles, a Silver Bullet or Merely a Piece to the Puzzle of an Intergenerationally Sustainable Urban Mobility Sector?

Dr. Lina Brand Correa, Assistant Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada
Dr. Tim Schwanen, Professor at the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford, UK

Advisor: Dr. Jukka Heinonen, Professor at the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland

Doctoral committee: 
Dr. Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, Professor at the Environment and Natural Resources program, University of Iceland
Dr. Reza Fazeli, Research Fellow at Energy Change Institute, Australian National University
Dr. Michał Czepkiewicz, Adjunct at the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iceland and Assistant Professor at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland

Chair of Ceremony: Dr. Guðmundur Freyr Úlfarsson, Professor and Head of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland

"Globally, electric vehicles (EVs) are being touted by countries and international organizations as a key transition technology to decarbonize the road transport sector. Yet, other researchers have suggested that EVs may not be a silver bullet solution, and public debates frequently question the embedded environmental impacts of EV’s battery packs, electricity source, and potential to add to peak load, thus challenging grid systems and potentially requiring greater electrical generation capacity. EVs can be considered a technological solution to decarbonizing the urban transport sector, and studies have pointed out the need to consider both behavioural (demand-side) and technological approaches.

This thesis attempts to address these challenging questions regarding EV integration through a multi-layered approach in which EVs are assessed at a product and urban level in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and electricity grid peak load impacts. Lastly, the thesis aims to characterize an intergenerationally ‘safe and just’ urban mobility system to contextualize the discussion surrounding EVs within a global sustainability framework, allowing for interpretation of what development pathways may provide the best results in terms of sustainability.

Intending to expand the conversation surrounding EVs, the results of the thesis suggest that a large-scale integration of EVs without car fleet reductions and other Avoid-Shift-Improve strategies may not be sufficient for achieving this intergenerational ‘safe and just’ sustainability.

Rather than taking an EV-centric technological approach, it is suggested that accessibility and behavioural approaches should be equally considered, with the approach taken relevant to the context of the urban area in question when attempting to decarbonize a region’s road transport sector.

Thus, rather than seeing EVs as a silver bullet, this research suggests that they should be seen as a single potential solution within a suite of solutions that should be used in the right context (i.e. low carbon electrical grid intensity and situations where the accessibility, travel distance, and public/active transport modes cannot provide sufficient mobility provisioning).

It is the aim of this thesis that the results of this work can be used to inform policy makers and urban planners of the value of taking balanced supply- and demand-side solution approaches relevant to the local context and help them develop more sectorally-focused policies tied to sectorally characterized ‘safe and just’ state to help guide the urban mobility sector towards intergenerational sustainability."

About the doctoral candidate:

Kevin was born in 1992 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Currently, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Florida and a Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland since 2018. Since January he has additionally been working as a Senior Sustainability Consultant at KPMG, while continuing with research at the University of Iceland.

Kevin Dillman

Doctoral defence in Environment and Natural Resources  - Kevin Dillman