In a new f3 report, researchers want to increase consciousness about the fact that different carbon footprint methods can give very different results depending on the context.

In the project, called The method’s influence on climate impact assessment of biofuels and other uses of biomass, researchers from SP, Chalmers and IVL have studied if and how the results differ when using different methods to calculate the carbon footprint of forest products and non-forest benchmarks.

When comparing the carbon footprints of the forest products with products they could be expected to replace, the project found that the results for the forest products could range from being definitely favourable to being worse than the benchmark products. Because there is (still) limited knowledge about how forest products influence the climate, and as carbon footprints will always depend on value-based assumptions (e.g. regarding geographical system boundaries), it is not possible to recommend one specific method which is suitable regardless of context, concludes the researchers. Hence, the key message is that increased consciousness is needed in these matters. It is also important to be aware of the assumptions made in the study, the effects of those assumptions on results, and how results can and cannot be used for decision support in a certain context.

Researchers Gustav Sandin, Diego Peñaloza, Frida Røyne, Magdalena Svanström and Louise Staffas focused to a great extent on making the outcome of the project accessible and usable and have compiled the main results and recommendations in an extensive executive summary, that has been reviewed by several industry participants.

More specific recommendations for decision makers as well as further details and results can be found in the main report, along with recommendations for LCA practitioners and researchers. Read the report: The method’s influence on climate impact assessment of biofuels and other uses of biomass

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