Journal of Industrial Ecology

Cover image for Vol. 19 Issue 4

Edited By: Reid Lifset

Impact Factor: 3.227

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2014: 44/221 (Environmental Sciences)

Online ISSN: 1530-9290

Is Attributional Life Cycle Assessment Misleading in Policy-Making


In issue #1 of volume 18 of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, Plevin and colleagues presented a provocative argument against the use of attributional life cycle assessment (ALCA) “to answer the question of whether a change in energy system use results in climate-change mitigation benefits.” Plevin and colleagues’ discussion of ALCA and consequential LCA (CLCA) had a particular focus on climate-change mitigation and biofuels policy, but it seems clear that it is equally applicable to other policy domains. Their critique prompted several LCA and biofuels researchers to write letters to the editor. The article and series of letters is an important contribution to the on-going debate regarding the role of LCA in policy-making and the appropriate use of ALCA and CLCA.

The original article, the letters, a response by Plevin and colleagues and an editorial are presented below.

Plevin, R. J., M. A. Delucchi, and F. Creutzig. 2014. Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation Benefits Misleads Policy Makers. Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(1): 73-83.

Brandão, M., R. Clift, A. Cowie, and S. Greenhalgh. 2014. The Use of Life Cycle Assessment in the Support of Robust (Climate) Policy Making: Comment on “Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation …”. Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(3): 461-463.

Dale, B. E. and S. Kim. 2014. Can the Predictions of Consequential Life Cycle Assessment Be Tested in the Real World? Comment on “Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation...”. Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(3): 466-467.

Hertwich, E. 2014. Understanding the Climate Mitigation Benefits of Product Systems: Comment on “Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation…”. Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(3): 464-465.

Plevin, R., M. Delucchi, and F. Creutzig. 2014. Response to Comments on “Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation …”. Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(3): 468-470.

Anex, R and R. Lifset. 2014. Life Cycle Assessment : Different Models for Different Purposes .Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(3): pages 321–323

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