Title: Global environmental impacts and planetary boundaries in LCA
Authors: SALA SERENELLABENINI LORENZOCRENNA ELEONORASECCHI MICHELA
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2016
JRC N°: JRC105141
ISBN: 978-92-79-64667-6
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 28371 EN
OP LB-NA-28371-EN-N
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC105141
DOI: 10.2788/64552
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: A crucial point in the discussion on planetary boundaries relates to the difficulties and the uncertainties in their quantification, given the underpinning ecological and environmental complexity inherent to the assessed phenomena, together with the level of normativity which such definition entails. When Planetary Boundaries’ thresholds are used for comparing current level of pressure on environment and ecosystems another aspect becomes as well critical. This is the robustness of the quantification of the underpinning current levels of environmental pressures. In fact, the quantification of such levels may entail critical aspects, as it usually consists of emission accounting (often incomplete) or modelling exercise (with the clear limitations linked to any modelling effort). In order to monitor progress towards the reduction of resources use and the associated environmental impacts, the present study aims at shading light on the different options for assessing the level of environmental pressure and impacts, adopting life cycle impact assessment models for estimating the impacts. Actually, the present report aims at assessing the available information related to the environmental pressure at European and global scale in relation to 15 categories of impact (climate change, ozone depletion, human toxicity cancer and no cancer, ecotoxicity, particulate matter, ionising radiation, photochemical ozone formation, acidification, eutrophication, land use, water depletion and resource depletion). The estimated impacts may represent the so called “normalisation factors” (NFs) used in the context of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which are used to estimate the relevance of the impacts associated to a product or a system. Moreover, this study explores the feasibility of the calculation of different sets of normalisation factors applicable in the LCA context and examines how those reference values perform when compared to planetary boundaries.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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