TU.3.C || Operationalising Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment

Finnveden, Göran

There is a general agreement in the LCA world that there are two types of LCAs: attributional and consequential. There has been a lot of discussions about the pros and cons of the two approaches and on differences in methodology, where especially methods that can be used in consequential LCA have been discussed. Less attention have been given to methodological aspects of attributional LCA and how it can be used. In this presentation six potential misunderstandings concerning attributional LCA will be discussed. The misunderstandings are: 1) LCA results of all the products in the world should add up to the total environmental impact in the world, sometimes called the 100 % rule. 2) Attributional LCA is less relevant than consequential LCA. 3) System expansion cannot be used in attributional LCA. 4) Attributional LCA leads to more truncation errors than consequential LCA. 5) There is a clear connection between the goal and questions of an LCA and the choice of attributional or consequential LCA. 6) There is a clear boundary between attributional and consequential LCA. In the presentation all this statements will be discussed and it it will argued that they are misunderstanding and sometimes wrong. This has implications for LCA practitioners is important for the choice of methodology and in the use of results. Although the focus here is on environmental LCA, the discussion is also relevant for Life Cycle Sustainability Assessments and the choice of methods.