New methods are now available to help companies, countries, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) more accurately track the impacts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other climate changing emissions. Tobias Schultz, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Practitioner for California-based SCS Global Services, presented details of these methods at the LCA XIII Conference in Orlando.
"Climate science has far outpaced the metrics used by current climate accounting systems," Schultz told the audience. "We are excited to report that methods have now been developed within the internationally recognized LCA framework to incorporate the latest scientific discoveries, and provide results that can better inform decision making and policy making."
Today's carbon registries and LCA studies are focused exclusively on calculating impacts for global climate change, he explained. However, the same emissions that are driving this change are also implicated in at least three other impact categories – Arctic climate change (occurring much more rapidly than global climate change), ocean warming, and ocean acidification. These impacts require their own accounting metrics to account for the different environmental mechanisms at play.
In addition, climate scientists now recognize the major role of black carbon and other compounds with short atmospheric lifetimes in climate change. Earlier this year, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, black carbon was identified as the second most important climate changing emission, just after carbon dioxide.
The newly updated climate accounting metrics include all four impact categories, incorporate all substances known to affect climate, and address regional factors related to short-lived climate pollutants, including the source, the region, and fate and transport of emissions. These metrics are described in a new draft standard, LEO-SCS-002, being developed under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process.
Schultz provided three case studies to highlight real-life applications of the metrics, including:
SCS Global Services (SCS) has been a global leader in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing and standards development for three decades. SCS programs span a wide cross-section of sectors, recognizing exemplary performance in natural resource management, green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, retailing and more. Contact Tobias Schultz to learn more about the draft LEO-SCS-002 standard and to schedule a presentation.