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Title: Life cycle thinking in impact assessment—Current practice and LCA gains

It has been advocated that life cycle thinking (LCT) should be applied in impact assessment (IA) to a greater extent, since some development proposals pose a risk of significant impacts throughout the interconnected activities of product systems. Multiple authors have proposed the usage of life cycle assessment (LCA) for such analytical advancement, but little to no research on this tool application has been founded in IA practice so far. The aim of this article is to elaborate further on the gains assigned to application of LCA. The research builds on a review of 85 Danish IA reports, which were analysed for analytical appropriateness and application of LCT. Through a focus on the non-technical summary, the conclusion and the use of specific search words, passages containing LCT were searched for in each IA report. These passages were then analysed with a generic framework. The results reveal that LCT is appropriate for most of the IAs, but that LCA is rarely applied to provide such a perspective. Without LCA, the IAs show mixed performance in regard to LCT. Most IAs do consider the product provision of development proposals, but they rarely relate impacts to this function explicitly. Many IAs do consider downstreammore » impacts, but assessments of upstream, distant impacts are generally absent. It is concluded that multiple analytical gains can be attributed to greater application of LCA in IA practice, though some level of LCT already exists. - Highlights: • Life cycle thinking is appropriate across the types and topics of impact assessment. • Yet, life cycle assessment is rarely used for adding such perspective. • Impact assessment practice does apply some degree of life cycle thinking. • However, application of life cycle assessment could bring analytical gains.« less
Authors:
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22479750
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 54; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2015 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; CURRENTS; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS; HAZARDS; LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT; PERFORMANCE; PROPOSALS; REVIEWS