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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: July 2014

2 - Tools for environmental impact and damage assessment



Countless tools, models and software packages have been developed for the analysis of environmental problems. This chapter focuses on tools that allow the assessment of environmental impacts and the comparison of technologies and policy choices. Impact Pathway Analysis (IPA) is presented in some detail because it is the correct approach for quantifying impacts and damage costs of pollution. Section 2.2 is an introduction to IPA; detailed discussions of the various elements follow in Chapters 3 to 9. We also discuss Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the relation between LCA and IPA. Difficulties and problems with the use of the various tools are addressed in Sections 2.4 and 2.5. Section 2.6 proposes an integrated framework for the analysis of environmental questions.

Overview of tools

Starting point: the DPSIR framework

There are a great number of tools, methods and models for the analysis of environmental problems. They differ in approach and objectives, but there is also much overlap and they are difficult to classify in a systematic scheme. We will not attempt a systematic survey but will focus instead on a few key features that are crucial for decision making, namely the ability to:

define the appropriate scope for the analysis,

model the dispersion of the pollutant(s) in the environment,

calculate the exposure of the receptors,

calculate the impacts,

assign monetary values to the impacts,

rank the options and identify the best choice(s).

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