Ethical perspectives on planetary boundaries and LCIA

Weidema B P, Brandão M (2015)

Publication info

Extended abstract for presentation at the SETAC2015, Barcelona 3-7 May 2015


The concept of planetary boundaries has resurfaced the discussion on carrying capacity and target setting for overall environmental impacts. Some authors see the concept as complementary to and compatible with the concept of sustainability. We argue here that the concept of planetary boundaries has a different ethical basis than the concept of sustainability, and that this is parallel to the incompatibility between Distance-To-Target and Damage approaches in life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). The main relevance of the notion of planetary boundaries is that it raises the issue of tipping points. We argue that it is possible to include the concern for a tipping point in the utilitarian damage approach, without the need to introduce targets, and we discuss this with the global warming metric as an example.

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