Including biodiversity aspects in life cycle assessments - A case study of forest-based biofuel
Sammanfattning: Analysing the environmental impact connected to biofuels has lately become more important due to the European Commission’s energy and climate target for 2020. These targets includes among others, 20 % reduction of greenhouse emissions and 20 % energy efficiency. One important solution for achieving this climate target is to increase the renewable fuel sector. In order to decide which biofuels that are of importance to focus on for further development is to use a life cycle assessment (LCA) to analyse the different environmental impacts caused by the biofuels life cycle. Biodiversity and ecosystem services are environmental categories that recently have become more of interest to include in environmental analysis assessments such as life cycle assessments. Biodiversity involves the diversity of genes within species or ecosystem, diversity of species within ecosystems, and diversity among ecosystems with in an area. This underlies all ecological processes and therefore it is vital to be able to utilize ecosystem services. Including this concept in lifecycle assessments are very complicated and until recently few methodologies existed for enable this. The largest biodiversity losses have been found to be caused by land use changes and for this reason has this been the main focus for including biodiversity in LCA. The aim of this thesis is therefore to investigate if and how it is possible to include biodiversity aspects in LCA, if not- what is needed to enable this or are alternative methods necessary? This were answered by conducting a case study for forest based DME where two different methodologies were tested. From the literature and case study it was possible to draw some conclusions about the possibility for including biodiversity aspects in LCAs. First or all, most biodiversity indicators are based on species richness for a land use type compared to a reference. This is a very simplified measure of the whole biodiversity concept and may not say so much of the impact on the ecosystem by only analyse how many species that is lost in one taxonomic group as a proxy for the whole biodiversity. Moreover, it is very complicated to perform the calculations required for the characterizations factors. Against this background one can doubt how good this indicator is. What is needed is more research and data available to include more biodiversity indicators as well as more taxonomic groups and altered geographic locations in the characterization factors. In this way the current methodology be improved.
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