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Title: Key issues and options in accounting for carbon sesquestration and temporary storage in life cycle assessment and carbon footprinting
Contributor(s): Brandao, M (author); Levasseur, A (author); Kirschbaum, M U F (author); Weidema, B P (author); Cowie, Annette  (author); Jorgensen, S V (author); Hauschild, M Z (author); Pennington, D W (author); Chomkhamsri, K (author)
Publication Date: 2013
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1007/s11367-012-0451-6Open Access Link
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Abstract: Purpose: Biological sequestration can increase the carbon stocks of non-atmospheric reservoirs (e.g. land and land based products). Since this contained carbon is sequestered from, and retained outside, the atmosphere for a period of time, the concentration of CO₂ in the atmosphere is temporarily reduced and some radiative forcing is avoided. Carbon removal from the atmosphere and storage in the biosphere or anthroposphere, therefore, has the potential to mitigate climate change, even if the carbon storage and associated benefits might be temporary. Life cycle assessment (LCA) and carbon foot printing (CF) are increasingly popular tools for the environmental assessment of products, that take into account their entire life cycle. There have been significant efforts to develop robust methods to account for the benefits, if any, of sequestration and temporary storage and release of biogenic carbon. However, there is still no overall consensus on the most appropriate ways of considering and quantifying it. Method: This paper reviews and discusses six available methods for accounting for the potential climate impacts of carbon sequestration and temporary storage or release of biogenic carbon in LCA and CF. Several viewpoints and approaches are presented in a structured manner to help decision-makers in their selection of an option from competing approaches for dealing with timing issues, including delayed emissions of fossil carbon. Results: Key issues identified are that the benefits of temporary carbon removals depend on the time horizon adopted when assessing climate change impacts and are therefore not purely science-based but include value judgments. We therefore did not recommend a preferred option out of the six alternatives presented here.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18(1), p. 230-240
Publisher: Springer
Place of Publication: Germany
ISSN: 1614-7502
Field of Research (FOR): 050301 Carbon Sequestration Science
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 960603 Environmental Lifecycle Assessment
960302 Climate Change Mitigation Strategies
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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