Tracking current and forecasting future land-use impacts of agricultural value chains. 67th Discussion Forum on Life Cycle Assessment, 3rd of November 2017, Zurich, Switzerland
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The 67th Discussion Forum on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), organised by partners of the European project RELIEF (RELIability of product Environmental Footprints), focused on methods for better understanding the impacts of land use linked to agricultural value chains. The first session of the forum was dedicated to methods that help in retrospective tracking of land use within complex supply chains. Novel approaches were presented for the integration of increasingly available spatially located land use data into LCA. The second session focused on forward-looking projections of land use change and included emerging, predictive methods for the modelling of land change. The third session considered impact assessment methods related to the use of land and their application together with land change modelling approaches. Discussions throughout the day centred on opportunities and challenges arising from integrating spatially located land use information into Life Cycle Assessment. Increasing amounts of spatially located land use data are becoming available and this could potentially increase the robustness and specificity of Life Cycle Assessment. However, the use of such data can be computationally expensive and requires the development of skills (i.e. use of geographical information systems (GIS) and model coding) within the LCA community. Land change modelling and ecosystem service modelling are associated with considerable uncertainty which must be communicated appropriately to stakeholders and decision-makers when interpreting results from an LCA. The new approaches were found to challenge aspects of the traditional LCA approach—particularly the division between the life cycle inventory and impact assessment and the assumption of linearity between scale and impacts when deriving characterisation factors. The presentations from the DF-67 are available for download (www.lcaforum.ch), and video recordings can be accessed online (http://www.video.ethz.ch/events/lca/2017/autumn/67th.html).
The authors would like to thank all the presenters for their contributions. Special thank you to ETH Zurich, Agroscope and the ecoinvent board for accommodating this Discussion Forum. Thank you to Giles Rigarlsford and Edward Price for reviewing the manuscript.
The workshop was organised by partners of the RELIEF project and funded within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 641459.
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