A decision-analytic framework for impact assessment

Part 2: Midpoints, endpoints, and criteria for method development
LCA methodology

DOI: 10.1007/BF02978787

Cite this article as:
Hertwich, E.G. & Hammitt, J.K. Int J LCA (2001) 6: 265. doi:10.1007/BF02978787

Abstract

In the first part of this paper, we showed how life-cycle impact assessment can be described as an exercise in decision analysis. We developed a structure for how to decide on the relative importance of different environmental stressors. In this second part, we offer criteria for the grouping of stressors into impact categories and for the development of impact indicators. Facts to be included in a characterization method should be selected according to their relevance and combined following established scientific models. Facts should be included only if they are informative, that is, if sufficient and sufficiently certain information is available for all stressors that should be evaluated by this method. Abstract, constructed indicators at the ‘midpoint level’ are better suited to compare similar impacts than indicators reflecting ‘observable environmental endpoints’ if there is a large uncertainty about the effects on observable endpoints. We argue that midpoint modeling should be retained. The additional evidence introduced by endpoint methods should be used to support ‘judgments about facts’ needed to evaluate the importance of different impact categories (or means objectives) in the means-ends objectives network.

Keywords

Acidification potentialdamage functionsenvironmental themesintegrated assessment of climate changeISO 14042life-cycle impact assessmentmulticriteria decision analysisweight of evidence

Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Industrial Ecology Program and Institute for Product DesignNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Center for Risk AnalysisHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA