MO.2.C || Transfer Towards Climate Neutrality – Scenarios, Options and Valuation

Bach, Vanessa; Finkbeiner, Matthias

According to the Paris Agreement and supported by the IPCC, climate neutrality has to be reached in the next 30 to 50 years in order to tackle climate change. Thus, many strategies to achieve climate neutrality popped up over the last few years. However, to avoid green-washing, problem-shifting, and double-counting scientifically robust assessment of carbon neutrality and considering the life cycle perspective is necessary and can be achieved by implementing the LCA methodology as a basis for accounting. Further, the carbon neutrality hierarchy needs to be considered, which clearly defines reduction and substitution over compensation. Product emissions need to be reduced by increasing the efficiency of the associated process or value chain. Further, products should be improved by replacing production technologies or ingredients with alternatives, which lead to lower carbon emissions. There is also a clear priority for physically tangible solutions which consider the complete life cycle, all greenhouse gas emissions, and trade-offs beyond climate change. To ensure for robust accounting, conservative and robust approaches for some value choices might be needed, e.g. accounting of delayed emissions of biogenic carbon should be avoided. One of the biggest challenge is the crediting of (renewable) energy in a way to avoid double counting. The final step is to offset remaining emissions by applying compensation measures, which also should be assessed using a life cycle perspective. These have to be reported separately from the LCA results. How some of the addressed issues can be applied in practice is demonstrated in the case of the German retail company dm drugstore. For overall 11 products, an approach considering the carbon neutrality hierarchy was applied not only for the impact category climate change but also considering and compensating for other impact categories such as eutrophication.