Life Cycle Impact Assessment Programme
The Life Cycle Impact Assessment programme refers to the third phase of LCA and deals with the evaluation of environmental impacts, (e.g. climate change and toxicity) of products and services over their whole life cycle. What are the impacts to consider and how should this be done? The LCIA programme increases the quality and global reach of the life cycle indicators by promoting the exchange of views among experts whose work results in a set of widely accepted recommendations.
More information about the LCIA Programme
In the Life Cycle Impact Assessment, the effects of the resource use and emissions generated are grouped and quantified into a limited number of impact categories which may then be weighted for importance.
According to the ToRs for the LCIA definition study its specific aims are:
- To identify user needs for Life Cycle Impact Assessment
- To provide a clear picture of the impact categories, including different impacts than the one typically applied in "OECD country LCAs", like e.g. erosion or biodiversity
- To provide guidelines for the starting points, the decision-making framework and guidelines for the identification of recommended practice
- To identify case studies, and industrial partners, to test and improve the method feasibility
- To identify the links with the LCI and LCM programmes, including the relation of LCIA to indicators, which also include the economical and social dimensions of sustainability
The following four Task Forces (TFs) have been established under the Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) Programme:
- LCIA information system (TF LCIA 1)
Towards the enhancement of the availability of sound LCIA data and methods, this Task Force aims to develop an LCIA information system on the one hand and to finalize and extend the general framework on the other hand.
- Natural resources and land use (TF LCIA 2)
This task force aims at establishing recommended practice and guidance for use for natural resources and land use categories, i.e.: water resources, minerals resources, energy carriers, soil resources and erosion, land use, salinisation and desiccation and biotic resources. It will address both midpoint categories and their relation to damage categories such as the biotic and abiotic natural environment.
- Toxicity impacts (TF LCIA 3)
Identification and quantification of impacts on human health and on ecosystems linked to the use and emissions of toxic substances are of central importance to the development of sustainable technology. On the one hand, the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative can take profit of significant recent progress in LCIA of toxics. On the other hand, several crucial shortages of present methodologies still exist which need to be addressed to enable a proper interpretation of LCI results. Interaction with emerging public substance databases (like REACH of the EU) are of high interest on the application side.
- Transboundary impacts (TF LCIA 4)
This task force aims at establishing recommended practice and guidance for use in transboundary categories, i.e: climate change, ozone depletion, aquatic and terrestrial eutrophication and acidification. Photooxidant formation and respiratory inorganics (Primary and secondary particles) will be coordinated with Task Force 3. The task force will address midpoint categories and their relation to damage categories human health and biotic natural environment in a consistent way with Task Force 3. Specific challenges for each impact category are defined in the LCIA definition study document.
These Task Forces are all orientated towards experience-sharing and guidance. The proposed training Task Force on distance learning could not be launched. The relationships among the four task forces (and the LCI and LCM programs) as well as related existing efforts are illustrated in the figure below. OMNIITOX
is a EU research project and TRACI
a US impact assessment method; the Japanese project has been carried out by AIST
. A meeting report providing basic information on the Evaluation of Environmental Impacts in Life Cycle Assessment has been published by UNEP with the support of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and can be obtained from Earthprint
Two themes driving the design of the entire LCIA program are:
- The need to integrate information transfer, capacity development and enhancement of good LCIA practice, addressed in priority by TF LCIA 1
- The need for deliverables and products towards recommended practice, carried out in priority by TFa LCIA 2 to 4, including application.
Linkage with the LCI and LCM programmes will be ensured in priority by TF LCIA 1, e.g. in the development of the case study library, whereas direct interaction between the TFs LCIA 2 to 4 and the LCI programme will be established to ensure compatibility between LCI and LCIA needs and developments. TFs LCIA 2 to 4 will also develop strong interactions with related external projects. Common test case studies will be carried out to ensure consistency between all of them.
Summary list of the LCIA methods
Summary description of the LCIA methods
Final draft of the LCIA definition study
This report summarises the main results of the LCIA definition study, starting with the results of the user needs survey and the update of the LCIA programme aims. A preliminary framework is then proposed structuring both midpoint and damage approaches of LCIA in a consistent way.
Three different background documents complement this approach:
- Background document I presents the full needs analysis report (the user need questionnaire itself can be downloaded from the LCinitiative website).
- Background document II presents a summary report on three LCIA workshops in Vienna, Tsukuba and Barcelona.
- Background document III provides complementary and important analyses for 13 midpoint categories.
The review process by downloading the response
to the reviewer's comments.