Publication Detail

Response to “On the uncanny capabilities of consequential LCA” by Sangwon Suh and Yi Yang

UCD-ITS-RP-14-35

Reprint

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

Available online at: DOI: 10.1007/s11367-014-0739-9

Suggested Citation:
Plevin, Richard J., Mark A. Delucchi, Felix Creutzig (2014) Response to “On the uncanny capabilities of consequential LCA” by Sangwon Suh and Yi Yang. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 19 (8), 1559 - 1560

To the editor:

We thank our colleagues Sangwon Suh and Yi Yang for presenting an opportunity to clarify aspects of our recent paper Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation Benefits Misleads Policy Makers, published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology (Plevin et al. 2013). We encourage readers to compare the claims made by Suh and Yang to what actually appeared in our article. We focus in this letter on what we see as the key problems with Suh and Yang’s commentary: they present straw-man arguments and do not address our actual claims about consequential LCA (CLCA) and attributional LCA (ALCA).

Suh and Yang present straw-man arguments. The title of the article by Suh and Yang notwithstanding, we do not believe and in our paper did not imply that CLCA possesses uncanny abilities. Indeed, we presented important limitations of CLCA. For example, we wrote:

“Expanding the analytic scope of LCA to incorporate markets and other complex system dynamics—for example, by relying on partial or general equilibrium modeling—broadens and changes the nature of the uncertainty in LCA results. ... CLCA also involves substantial parametric uncertainty while adding the scenario dependence and uncertainty inherent to all projections of the future. Moreover, complex, multifaceted, interdisciplinary problems, such as estimating the net climate effects of alternative policies, engender multiple perspectives and evaluation frameworks, yielding divergent outcomes that can be equally plausible."