Combining life cycle assessment and economic modelling to assess environmental impacts of agricultural policies: the case of the French ruminant sector - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment Year : 2019

Combining life cycle assessment and economic modelling to assess environmental impacts of agricultural policies: the case of the French ruminant sector

Abstract

PurposeNumerous policy instruments are applied to agricultural production in the European Union (EU27). Implementing them may significantly influence environmental impacts of agricultural production. A consequential life cycle assessment (CLCA) approach was used to investigate potential environmental impacts of two EU27 policy instruments: dairy quota removal and implementation of a grass premium in the EU27.MethodsMATSIM-LUCA, a partial equilibrium model of global agricultural markets, was used to assess market effects of policy instrument changes and to identify the processes affected. Land use change and intensification of crop production were also considered. Outputs of the model were used to feed the CLCA.Results and discussionQuota removal led to a predicted increase in production of cow milk, dairy cull cows and beef cows in the EU27, while avoided beef cow production was located outside the EU27. Per functional unit, the additional milk production in France had lower environmental impacts than average French milk before quota removal, mostly due to avoided beef cow production in the USA. After implementation of the grass premium, cattle diets in the EU27 were predicted to contain less concentrates and more grass. Increased demand for grass led to grassland expansion at the expense of cropland, and finally to an increased area needed to produce similar quantities of ruminant products. Intensification of crop production in the EU27 occurred at the same time, however, thus reducing competition for land among different agricultural land uses but increasing environmental impacts of crop production when expressed per hectare. Environmental impacts of the additional hectares used to produce ruminant products were negative for most impact categories.ConclusionsThis study provides an initial attempt to assess environmental impacts of policy instrument changes in the ruminant sector through CLCA by combining economic modelling and LCA. Using an economic model allows the identification of the main effects of policy instrument changes in complex interconnected markets, such as agricultural ones. Nonetheless, inconsistencies between the economic and LCA frameworks were identified that need to be improved to make the method more operational.
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Dates and versions

hal-02091622 , version 1 (05-04-2019)

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Thibault Salou, Chantal Le Mouël, Fabrice Levert, Agneta Forslund, Haye van Der Werf. Combining life cycle assessment and economic modelling to assess environmental impacts of agricultural policies: the case of the French ruminant sector. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2019, 24 (3), pp.566-580. ⟨10.1007/s11367-018-1463-7⟩. ⟨hal-02091622⟩
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