Environmental Footprint Neutrality Using Methods and Tools for Natural Capital Accounting in Life Cycle Assessment


Rugani B., Osset P., Blanc O., Benetto E.


Land, vol. 12, n° 6, art. no. 1171, 2023


Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) is becoming a reference tool for an increasing number of organizations transitioning towards environmental impact neutrality. However, one NCA technique applicable to all types of actors (individual, community, company, etc.) is missing because of the lack of consensus on how to quantify both their environmental impacts and dependencies on ecosystems. A coupled systematic and non-systematic review of the grey and scientific literature is performed here to (i) make an extensive review of state-of-the-art NCA methods, identifying their current utilization and limitations, and (ii) discern prospects about the challenges of integrating an Ecosystem Service Accounting in Life Cycle Assessment (ESA-LCA). While NCA methods can extensively evaluate the supply of ES, they tend to disregard the quantification of environmental impacts that imply a demand for ES. The ESA-LCA approach is identified as a robust solution to balance supply and demand of ecosystem services in NCA, allowing private and public actors to quantify their distance from impact neutrality targets. A novel definition of NC(A) in LCA is also formulated to support these future efforts, promoting a Mitigation Hierarchy-based strategy to avoid, minimize, restore, and offset impacts, and outlining a roadmap for practitioners to apply ESA-LCA across multiple economic sectors.



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