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Limitations of LCA in environmental accounting for biofuels under RED

Tereza Bicalho (Research Centre for Finance and Management CREFIGE, Paris Dauphine University, Paris, France)
Jacques Richard (Research Centre for Finance and Management CREFIGE, Paris Dauphine University, Paris, France)
Cécile Bessou (Research Unit on Perennial Cropping Systems, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Montpellier, France)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 16 November 2012



The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is a specific example of life cycle assessment (LCA) applied to legislative measures that have far‐reaching implications for economic operators. This paper aims to analyze LCA limitations for biofuels based on RED from an environmental accounting perspective.


LCA limitations are identified on the basis of a literature review and illustrated in the specific context of RED. The limitations encountered within the study were classified into two categories: lack of data, and lack of standards. From this perspective, the LCA‐based problems and their implication and possible improvements in the RED context are discussed.


The study identifies that the absence of an environmental accounting that could provide periodic enterprise‐specific information is a significant cause of limitations of LCA as a decision‐supporting tool within RED. In turn, environmental accounting approaches address a number of initiatives that are not systematically linked with LCA research. The paper recommends that RED should provide rules to address enterprise‐specific data in addition to other methodological approaches to overcome problems already discussed in the extant literature. This would enable RED to provide economic incentives more effectively and promote the application of environmental accounting systems in companies with higher quality data for LCA applications.


This paper explains how LCA applications could be improved by the introduction of environmental accounting systems and how RED could be more effective by considering environmental accounting.



Bicalho, T., Richard, J. and Bessou, C. (2012), "Limitations of LCA in environmental accounting for biofuels under RED", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 218-234.



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