Advances and challenges of life cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas removal technologies to fight climate changes

P. Goglio*, A.G. Williams, N. Balta-Ozkan, N.R.P. Harris, P. Williamson, D. Huisingh, Z. Zhang, M. Tavoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Several greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGRTs), also called negative emissions technologies (NET) have been proposed to help meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets. However, there are many uncertainties in the estimation of their effective greenhouse gas (GHG) removal potentials, caused by their different levels of technological development. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been proposed as one effective methodology to holistically assess the potential of different GGRT removal approaches but no common framework is currently available for benchmarking and policy development. In this article, challenges for LCA are reviewed and discussed together with some alternative approaches for assessment of GGRTs. In particular, GGRTs pose challenges with regards to the functional unit, the system boundary of the LCA assessment, and the timing of emissions. The need to account within LCA of GGRTs for broader implications which involve environmental impacts, economic, social and political drivers is highlighted. A set of recommendations for LCA of GGRTs are proposed for a better assessment of the GGRTs and better accounting of their carbon removal potentials to meet the targets established within the Paris Agreement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118896
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume244
Early online date14 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2020

Fingerprint

Greenhouse gases
Climate change
Life cycle
greenhouse gas
life cycle
climate change
removal
Life cycle assessment
benchmarking
technological development
Benchmarking
policy development
Environmental impact
environmental impact
Economics
Carbon
methodology
carbon
climate
economics

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Environmental assessment
  • Greenhouse gas removal technologies
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Methodology
  • Negative emission technologies

Cite this

Goglio, P. ; Williams, A.G. ; Balta-Ozkan, N. ; Harris, N.R.P. ; Williamson, P. ; Huisingh, D. ; Zhang, Z. ; Tavoni, M. / Advances and challenges of life cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas removal technologies to fight climate changes. In: Journal of Cleaner Production. 2020 ; Vol. 244.
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Advances and challenges of life cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas removal technologies to fight climate changes. / Goglio, P.; Williams, A.G.; Balta-Ozkan, N.; Harris, N.R.P.; Williamson, P.; Huisingh, D.; Zhang, Z.; Tavoni, M.

In: Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 244, 118896, 20.01.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - Goglio, P.

AU - Williams, A.G.

AU - Balta-Ozkan, N.

AU - Harris, N.R.P.

AU - Williamson, P.

AU - Huisingh, D.

AU - Zhang, Z.

AU - Tavoni, M.

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AB - Several greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGRTs), also called negative emissions technologies (NET) have been proposed to help meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets. However, there are many uncertainties in the estimation of their effective greenhouse gas (GHG) removal potentials, caused by their different levels of technological development. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been proposed as one effective methodology to holistically assess the potential of different GGRT removal approaches but no common framework is currently available for benchmarking and policy development. In this article, challenges for LCA are reviewed and discussed together with some alternative approaches for assessment of GGRTs. In particular, GGRTs pose challenges with regards to the functional unit, the system boundary of the LCA assessment, and the timing of emissions. The need to account within LCA of GGRTs for broader implications which involve environmental impacts, economic, social and political drivers is highlighted. A set of recommendations for LCA of GGRTs are proposed for a better assessment of the GGRTs and better accounting of their carbon removal potentials to meet the targets established within the Paris Agreement.

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