Date: 30 Mar 2011

Consequential life cycle assessment: a review

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Abstract

Purpose

Over the past two decades, consequential life cycle assessment (CLCA) has emerged as a modeling approach for capturing environmental impacts of product systems beyond physical relationships accounted for in attributional LCA (ALCA). Put simply, CLCA represents the convergence of LCA and economic modeling approaches.

Method

In this study, a systematic literature review of CLCA is performed.

Results

While initial efforts to integrate the two modeling methods relied on simple partial equilibrium (PE) modeling and a heuristic approach to determining affected technologies, more recent techniques incorporate sophisticated economic models for this purpose. In the last 3 years, Multi-Market, Multi-Regional PE Models and Computable General Equilibrium models have been used. Moreover, the incorporation of other economic notions into CLCA, such as rebound effects and experience curves, has been the focus of later research. Since economic modeling can play a prominent role in national policy-making and strategic/corporate environmental planning, developing the capacity to operate LCA concurrent to, or integrated with, these models is of growing importance.

Conclusions

This paper outlines the historical development of such efforts in CLCA, discusses key methodological advancements, and characterizes previous literature on the topic. Based on this review, we provide an outlook for further research in CLCA.