LCA in Public Policy

A database containing information about 17 OECD jurisdictions using and promoting life cycle approaches in their public policies.

The database contains information about 17 jurisdictions of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) using and promoting life cycle approaches in their public policies. The database results from a political science research project on the environmental state and life cycle analysis. The project identifies and classifies policy instruments that incorporate LCA for each jurisdiction: informational measures, legislative and regulatory frameworks, procurement policies, financial support, administrative practices, and strategic guidance. The database allows the user to retrieve information by jurisdiction, by instrument or by category of instrument (nodality, authority, treasure, organization). The included jurisdictions are Australia, California, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The database allows for mapping the use of LCA within the OECD. It shows how LCA has penetrated the realm of public policy and decision-making of all jurisdictions. But there is variation in the ways it is used and in scope. Next steps of the project seek to understand the variation between states. Data collection: We sampled data are from 14 states, considering that states structure social and economic interactions, have the (coercive) power to legislate and implement legislation, and dispose of substantial administrative and economic resources. Data from 1 supranational and 2 subnational jurisdictions have been added due to their more progressive environmental policy approaches in Europe and North America. Data are drawn from official government sites. There is no definite timeline, but most data cover the past 10 years. Initial and intermediary steps of the data collection have been discussed with experts from CIRAIG and validated by 11 international LCA experts. Moreover, data have been validated by an online survey in 2019. Due to the exploratory nature of the research, the data is not exhaustive.

In collaboration with


Manuele Margni

Professor, CIRAIG – Polytechnique Montreal

Other Collaborators:

Bruno Arcand, Marc-Étienne Dagesse, Simon Langlois-Bertrand


Categories of Instruments

The categories are based on Christopher Hood’s NATO model:

  • Hood C (1983) The Tools of Government. Macmillan
  • Hood C, Margetts H (2007) The tools of government in the digital age. Palgrave 


The NATO model groups policy instruments according to four types of social resources they rely on and from which governments derive different capabilities:

Nodality denotes the central point in information networks; gives governments a strategic position to disseminate information and/or access information.

Authority denotes the possession of legal powers and other sources of legitimacy; enables governments to demand, forbid, guarantee and adjudicate corporate and individual behaviour.

Treasure refers to public money and ‘fungible chattels’; allows governments to exchange and to use public resources as a means of influence.

Organization denotes the possession of a stock of people with skills, equipment, etc., gives governments in-house capacity to act, for example through bureaucratic and scientific leverage.

Types of Instruments

  1. Informational measures : based on the government’s central position in information or social networks; cover governmental participation in the building of life cycle databases and inventories, or the setup of sharing platforms; include the dissemination of more general LCA information, such as the results of (past) studies and reports in various sectors.
  2. Legislative and regulatory frameworks: codes of regulations, laws and acts, standards and mandatory eco-labels; bestow official power to demand, forbid, guarantee, adjudicate.
  3. Governmental procurement policies: public procurement of goods, services and construction using or promoting LCA in management-related decisions in different sectors and at different levels (agencies, ministries, departments).
  4. Financial support: covers instances where governmental agencies fund measures aimed to support the application of LCA by private actors; includes LCA completed in collaboration with, or funded by, public authorities; includes negative incentives such as taxes.
  5. Administrative practices: cover the use of LCA in-house in different agencies and departments, but also in state-owned corporations.
  6. Strategic guidance: covers references to life cycle assessment and life cycle thinking principles in high-level government strategy documents, action plans, scenarios or roadmaps; includes alternative terms whenever (a) the principles to which they refer are close to life cycle thinking and/or (b) the specific policy tool to which they refer is clearly within the family of policy tools that contain LCA.

Instruments by Category

Instrument Category 
Informational measures Nodality
Legislative and regulatory frameworks Authority
Governmental procurement Treasure
Financial support Treasure
Administrative practices Organization
Strategic guidance Organization

LCA Instruments per jurisdiction

Contact Us

Due to the exploratory nature of the research, the database is not exhaustive. If you know of other LCA-related government instruments that are in use in one of the 17 OECD jurisdictions, do not hesitate to send us information. Thank you for your contribution!

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