LCA and decision making: when and how to use consequential LCA; 62nd LCA forum, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, 9 September 2016, International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (2016)

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Themes: decision making, consequencial LCA, case studies
The 62nd life cycle assessment (LCA) forum was held on 9 September 2016 to discuss the state of research and application with regard to consequential life cycle assessment. This conference report presents the highlights of the LCA forum. The state of the art of consequential LCA was presented from different viewpoints. It was pointed out that consequential LCA is more than marginal mixes and avoided burdens and involves causal modelling. It was also said that social responsibility calls for consequential LCA. Currently, different models are used to support decision making. It was suggested to make use of the variety of models to check the conclusiveness of their results and thus the reliability of the LCAs. Current and future implementations of consequential LCI models in background databases and linking algorithms were presented. Several speakers presented consequential LCA case studies covering the sectors energy, transport, housing and mining. Some of the LCA models used in the case studies are complemented with general and partial computable equilibrium models and agent-based models and use environmentally extended input-output data or process-based LCA data. Some of the presentations focused on elements such as constrained production, marginal market mixes and technologies or recycling and system expansion. In three parallel workshops, the needs, contents and methodology, and implementation of consequential LCA approaches were discussed. The participants seemed to generally agree on the basic goal that LCA should be able to reflect the consequences of decisions. The inquiry among the participants showed that the demand for consequential LCA studies is hardly existent. The appropriate implementation of consequential modelling in LCA databases and on the appropriate model to be used in consequential LCA case studies was debated. It revealed a need for further and extensive discussions to be able to reach (minimum) consensus.