Science-Based Targets For Companies Explained
The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) is one of the leading platforms for setting globally recognised emission targets; read our article to learn what targets are aligned with the initiative, how to set a Science-Based Target, and why monitoring is critical to achieving your SBTs.
It’s been over five years since the Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 nations worldwide. The parties that ratified the agreement currently account for around 97 percent of global GHG emissions. While governments and national leaders plan to advance efforts in the fight against climate change, businesses are taking the initiative and stepping up their contribution. Climate change is now firmly on the boardroom agenda, while digitalisation and electrification are the big bets to foster this transition. If your company is considering taking climate action, setting targets under a globally recognised initiative is one of the first measures that you can take.
Main climate initiatives available to companies
There are many climate initiatives available for companies to join. Initiatives can be specific to certain areas such as RE100 (Renewable Energy Targets) or EV100 (Electric Vehicles Targets). Or they can cover a company’s entire emission portfolio.
The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and the Climate Pledge are the leading platforms for setting globally recognised emission targets. In terms of popularity, the SBTi is the leader in the space with over a thousand companies setting targets based on its guidance.
What is the Science-Based Target Initiative?
The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) was established in 2015 through a partnership between CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The objective of the SBTi is to show companies how to create effective GHG emission reduction strategies. It allows companies to be confident that their strategies will help to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
The total emissions covered under the initiative have been growing rapidly since its inception. As of 2020, over 1.1 Gigatonnes of CO2e emissions (Scope 1 & 2) is disclosed by science-based target companies. For more insight on Scope 2 emissions, read this article: Reporting Scope 2 Emissions: GHG Protocol Explained.
What are Science-Based Targets (SBTs)?
Based on the SBT definition, “targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they’re in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement — limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.”
To break it down simply, the main goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the planet’s warming below 1.5°C. We can achieve this but it requires global emissions to reach “net-zero” by 2050. By setting an SBT for 1.5°C, a company is essentially putting a plan in place to reach “net-zero” company emissions by 2050. A Science-Based Target will set out a pathway of gradual emission reductions each year until 2050.
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