Is this the flag of Cameroon?

A year ago, in a mailing list far far away…

It has been a while since my last post (paternity leave…) and I am working on two longer posts for later so here is a quick one.

About one year ago I answered to a thread on the Pre discussion list about the credibility of LCA and the usefulness of LCA guidelines.

Long story short: we have to accept the fact that in some circles LCA is perceived as greenwashing-ish, pseudo-scientific, and a bureaucratic nightmare. Often I share these concerns too. If the LCA community want this LCA thing to survive there is some work to do.

After one year from my mail I still have the same wishes. To celebrate this anniversray I will reformulate them here below in a Stop-Start-Continue style.

Dear LCA community, I wish we could…


Producing bureaucracy. There have been substantial efforts in the last 20+ years in making LCA practice more standard and more uniform. It has been successful to a certain extent, but it has not solved many problems. I feel a certain fatigue regarding this process of dealing with diversity by enforcing uniformity, and honestly another standard or guideline won’t make my life as LCA practitioner easier or better. There is also a limit to what we can reasonably standardise. Let’s accept that there is not only one way of doing LCA, and prioritise substance rather than form.


Making reproducible LCA studies. This means also transparent and understandable LCA reporting. This means also easily exportable/importable models and data between LCA software. This means also open and free data and tools. In LCA there is a high diversity of approaches, models, data, and people, and very little chances for validation. Results of different studies on similar topics will continue to be different. Which is fine as long as we can easily compare them and explain why these differences arise. We don’t need a common method we need a common understanding.


Teaching LCA. Even the ideal reporting is useless if people don’t understand what LCA is about. Education of LCA practitioners and of users of LCA results is a must. If we can train people to have a deeper knowledge of LCA, better practical LCA skills, and to be critical towards LCA studies, then we have good hope to make a difference and raise the quality bar. Training is costly and teachers deserve retribution so we need to find a middle way here. I really appreciate those who make LCA studies and LCA textbooks available for free, for example (thank you).

A little disclaimer

To be honest I know that a lot of clever people are already active on these fronts and I see many interesting initiatives growing on data sharing, open software, new textbooks, etc. Too long a list for this short post! This is really positive. Keep it up. Good vibrations.

I guess in a year I should write another post to check what progress has been made…right? Perhaps five years…

So long.