LCA and carbon neutrality assessments: monetary implications of information unavailability and uncertainty

01 Nov 2008Archived News Publications

This paper was produced by Dr Mary Stewart, Harriet Kater, Dr David Mitchell and Rob Rouwette of Energetics Pty Ltd for the ALCAS conference.


Stakeholders are paying much closer attention to the quality and completeness of assessments used to underpin carbon neutrality claims. This is further strengthened by the recent release by the ACCC of guidelines for assessing carbon footprints, and how these are linked to public claims of a preferred carbon position. We use LCA to draw the boundary definitions for all public claims of carbon neutrality. Further, where directly measurable data are not available, we augment information sets with generic LCA information, using worst case information where gaps exist. This serves the purpose of inflating the inventory and increasing the cost of credits required for carbon neutral status. In this paper we review current consumer sentiment as it relates to environmental claims in marketing. We present a brief review of carbon neutral and carbon footprint assessment frameworks being developed at present and highlight the role that LCA will play in these. We then use an illustrative case study, based on the Energetics carbon neutral accreditation under the Greenhouse FriendlyTM program, to demonstrate a pragmatic approach to developing LCAs for carbon neutral claims. We use current carbon credits costs to demonstrate that there are instances where improving information quality is not cost effective, and under what circumstances there is a business case for improving information quality. We include recommendations on what companies should consider when deciding to undertake a carbon neutral assessment.

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