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Models and scientific tools for regulatory purposes: the case of CO2 emissions from light duty vehicles in Europe

A key question faced by policy makers throughout the world today is how policy can follow and adapt to the fast technological changes, to the increasing complexity of various scientific fields and to new practices appearing as a result of an increasingly interconnected world. In a rapidly developing and changing landscape, traditional policy making approaches and policy options should be reconsidered in order to provide the optimal benefits to society. A typical example is the field of vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in Europe. Modern vehicle technologies are changing fast and policy instruments regulating their design should evolve accordingly in order to remain updated. In this context Europe has recently upgraded the emission test procedure for the type-approval of light duty vehicles by adopting the new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light duty vehicle Test Procedure). In order to accelerate its introduction a new modelling tool had to be introduced in the certification process together with new software based instruments, which had to be developed and implemented. This case could open the path to fully software-based vehicle certification in which modelling tools might be applied to reduce the current opportunities of manipulations offered by physical tests.