Accounting for greenhouse gas emissions of materials at the urban scale-Relating existing process life cycle assessment studies to urban material and waste composition

TitleAccounting for greenhouse gas emissions of materials at the urban scale-Relating existing process life cycle assessment studies to urban material and waste composition
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsKissinger, M, Sussmann, C, Moore, J, Rees, WE, ,
JournalLow Carbon Economy
Volume4
Pagination36
KeywordsGreenhouse Gas Emissions, life cycle assessment, Scope 3 Emissions, urban sustainability
Abstract

Although many cities are engaged in efforts to calculate and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, most are
accounting for “scope one” emissions i.e., GHGs produced within urban boundaries (for example, following the proto-
col of the International Council for Lo cal Environmental Initiatives). Cities should also account for the emissions asso-
ciated with goods, services and materials consumed within their boundaries, “scope three” emissions. The emissions
related to urban consumption patterns and choices greatly influence overall emissions that can be associated with an
urban area. However, data constraints and GHG accounting complexity present challenges. In this paper we propose
one approach that cities can take to measure the GHG emissions of their material consumption: the solid waste life cycle assessment (LCA) based approach. We used this approach to identify a set of materials commonly consumed within cities, and reviewed published life cycle assessment data to determine the GHG emissions associated with production of each. Our review reveals that among fourteen commonly consumed materials, textiles and aluminum are associated with the highest GHG emissions per tonne of production. Paper and plastics have relatively lower production emissions, but a potentially higher impact on overall emissions owing to their large proportions, by weight, in the consumption stream.
 

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.4236/lce.2013