Climate change damage functions in LCA: – (2) data availability and selection of indicators

Ingeborg Callesen, Claus Beier, Rikke Bagger Jørgensen, Stig Irving Olsen, Michael Zwicky Hauschild

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    Emissions of greenhouse gases among other things lead to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, increasing temperatures, changed precipitation patterns and thus multi-factorial changes in the growth environment (1). Primary producers in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and consumers in the food web will experience ecophysiological changes as a consequence of this. To date, only very few truly multi-factorial ecophysiological experiments at the field scale exist. Results from these suggest that the sensitivities of species and ecosystems towards a changing growth environment will be variable (2). Modeling exercises suggest large-scale range shifts of the major biomes of the world (1). The unknown magnitude of future GHG emissions and the complexity of the climate-carbon system induce large uncertainties in the projected changes. A changed climate may result in new interactions and new directions of ecosystem change due to differing adaptive capacities and new species assemblages. Within the framework ‘ecosystem services’ both marketed and non-marketed utilities of the natural environment are formulated (3). Provisioning, cultural, supporting, and regulating ecosystem services have been described. How will these services be affected by the increasing atmospheric GHG concentrations ? How can the changes be expressed in a damage model for LCIA? For the area of protection ‘Natural environment’ both sensitive and robust responses to climate change may be foreseen for different species within ecosystems and between ecosystems. A common metric may thus show high variability. Plural metrics may be needed to adequately describe the variety of different ecosystem services in different regional settings. By evaluation of available data from e.g. global monitoring initiatives of ecosystem services such as UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN-REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries), and other available sources (e.g. the Global Biodiversity Information Facility), we discuss the selection of indicators for different environmental services from the natural environment, how these can be related to life cycle inventory results for GHG emissions and what would be appropriate metrics for the resulting damage to the area of protection ‘Natural environment’. References [1] Fischlin A, Midgley JT et al 2007. Chapter 4 Ecosystems, their properties, goods and services. In: Climate change 2007. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 211-272. [2] Mikkelsen TN, Beier C, et al. (2008) Experimental design of multifactor climate change experiments with elevated CO2, warming and drought – the CLIMAITE project. Functional Ecology, 22, 185-195. [3]Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2011
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting: Ecosystem Protection in a Sustainable World: A Challenge for Science and Regulation - Milano Convention Centre, Milano, Italy
    Duration: 15 May 201119 May 2011
    Conference number: 21


    ConferenceSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting
    LocationMilano Convention Centre
    Internet address

    Bibliographical note

    Abstract and poster available


    • ecosystem services
    • damage metric
    • Climate damage
    • indicators


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