Demystifying Science-Based Targets

Understand what science-based targets are and why they're vital for global climate action
Published:
Demystifying Science-Based Targets
Understand what science-based targets are and why they're vital for global climate action
Published:
Demystifying Science-Based Targets
Understand what science-based targets are and why they're vital for global climate action
Published:
Last updated:

What are Science-Based Targets?

Science Based Targets (SBTs) are gaining global recognition as a critical tool in guiding businesses towards a sustainable future.

They provide companies with a clear, science-based framework to set and measure their greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals in line with the objectives set under the Paris Agreement. Adopting SBTs drives businesses to take bolder climate action and enhances their credibility and market reputation.

To set a Science Based Target, companies follow a rigorous, transparent process that aligns their emission reduction ambitions with the latest scientific recommendations.

Chart showing the growth in Science-Based Targets. More than 6,000 companies have signed SBTI initiatives.
Over 6,00 companies have committed to a science-based emissions target. (Source: Nat Bullard)

This involves comprehensively assessing their GHG emissions and determining realistic yet ambitious reduction targets. By setting SBTs, companies showcase their commitment to sustainability and join a growing community of organisations stepping up for the global climate challenge.

Key takeaways

  • Science Based Targets provide a framework for companies to align their emission reduction goals with the Paris Agreement.
  • The process for setting SBTs involves thorough emissions assessment and ambitious target determination.
  • Committing to SBTs demonstrates corporate sustainability leadership and enhances market reputation.

Science-based targets: definition and purpose

Science-based targets (SBTs) help companies align climate actions with global efforts. They are emission reduction objectives based on climate science. Businesses use them for sustainability and fighting climate change.

SBTs align with the Paris Agreement goals. This agreement aims to limit global warming below 2°C and pursue efforts for 1.5°C. Targets must be ambitious but achievable, guiding corporate climate action.

Several factors determine SBTs. They consider a company’s size, sector, and growth plans. Climatic conditions, regional policies, and industry benchmarks also play a part. This ensures that targets are relevant and practical.

The Science Based Targets initiative brings together companies for collective action. It sets guidelines and validates targets.

To get involved, companies must:

  • Publicly commit to SBTs
  • Develop targets within 24 months
  • Report progress annually

Once targets are set and verified, organisations can:

  • Integrate SBTs into business strategies
  • Invest in low-carbon technologies
  • Collaborate in industry-wide efforts

In summary, SBTs offer a framework for businesses to combat climate change. By following scientific guidelines, companies contribute to a sustainable future.

Science-based target setting: the process

Key methodologies and criteria

Setting science-based targets involves using established methods. One prominent initiative is the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). This programme offers validation, resources, and guidance for organisations aiming to set targets.

What are the main criteria for science-based targets?

The main criteria for science-based targets include:

  • Alignment with current scientific knowledge
  • Inclusion of scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions
  • Consideration of sector-specific factors
  • Transparency in target reporting

How are target determinations made?

Determinations are made through data analysis and expert input. Baseline data and sector-specific factors are considered in setting plausible, ambitious targets. Innovative methods can also play a role in target-setting processes.

Involvement of organisations and stakeholders

Organisations can commit to using SBTi resources and methodologies. They participate by:

  • Developing clear emissions reduction targets
  • Engaging with stakeholders
  • Aligning targets with sector guidance
  • Reporting progress regularly

In setting climate science-based targets, a collaborative approach involving various stakeholders helps achieve sustainability goals.

Making a commitment: goals and expectations

Organisations need to show commitment to science-based targets and take the initiative. This involves setting ambitious goals and clear expectations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

These goals align with the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global warming to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

  • Companies must focus on decarbonisation and strive for net-zero emissions.
  • Transparency and communication play a crucial role in achieving these objectives.
  • Minimising risks and managing the company’s reputation are essential.

By committing to science-based targets, organisations demonstrate their proactive approach. Achieving net-zero emissions leads to a more sustainable future and mitigates the impacts of climate change. Transparent communication of progress fosters trust among stakeholders and enhances the organisation’s reputation.

To get involved in setting science-based targets, one can take the following steps:

  • Assess the company’s current emissions
  • Align objectives with the 1.5°C and well-below 2°C pathways
  • Establish short- and long-term goals
  • Monitor progress and communicate the achievements.

Embracing science-based targets enables organisations to reduce their carbon footprint systematically. This commitment helps ensure a greener and more sustainable future for everyone.

Business benefits

Science Based Targets (SBTs) offer numerous benefits. They improve competitiveness and foster growth. Companies with clear objectives stand out in their industries.

SBTs enable businesses to:

Cost savings is another vital aspect. By decreasing energy consumption and emissions, firms reduce expenses. This approach benefits the bottom line.

Value chains become more efficient. Companies can better manage their supply chains. They can also build resilient operations. This supports long-term viability.

Strategic planning is essential. SBTs guide organisations in setting their priorities. This clarity is crucial for success.

Overall, SBTs deliver undeniable value to business units. Embracing these targets paves a sustainable way forward for growth and competitiveness.

Success stories and leadership

Science Based Targets (SBTs) inspire leadership and drive genuine change. When business leaders commit to SBTs, they create a culture of sustainability.

  • SBTs require a top-level buy-in.
  • Leaders set ambitious carbon reduction goals.

Many companies see remarkable success. Here are some high-performing examples:

  • Amazon has continued to grow profits after adopting science-based decarbonisation targets
  • Nike has met its science-based emissions reduction targets several years early, achieving a 71% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions in 2022 from their 2015 baseline. 

Strong leadership reaps the rewards. To get involved, follow these steps:

  1. Understand SBT frameworks
  2. Conduct emissions analysis
  3. Set ambitious goals
  4. Integrate targets into operations
  5. Share progress and lead by example

Embrace SBTs for a sustainable future.

Moving forward: tools and resources for implementation

Implementing science-based targets requires tools and resources to navigate the journey. One must understand the criteria for setting targets and communicate progress transparently.

Science-Based Targets Network offers a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing. This network provides resources and guidelines on target-setting methodologies.

Tools to assess and track progress are essential. Decision-makers can employ analytical tools to gauge their performance against set targets. These tools not only enhance comprehension but also add value to stakeholder communications.

Transparency is crucial for organisations aiming to make a difference. Transparent reporting ensures accountability and builds trust with investors, customers, and employees. Open communication channels demonstrate a commitment to the cause.

In summary, success in implementing science-based targets stems from employing appropriate tools, using resources prudently, adhering to the set criteria, and communicating transparently. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Connect with the Science Based Targets Network and make a meaningful impact.

Expansion of SBT: cities, financial institutions, and regulations

Science Based Targets (SBTs) are not limited to companies. They also apply to cities and financial institutions. This broadens the scope and increases the impact of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

SBTs support environmental improvement in cities by analysing air, water, and waste management systems. The involvement of cities augments climate change mitigation efforts as urban areas generate a substantial share of global emissions.

For financial institutions, SBTs are a vital element of managing climate risks. This helps to integrate sustainability into their portfolio decisions while aligning with global goals such as the Paris Agreement.

The growing importance of SBTs demands regulatory attention. Governments should encourage the adoption of these targets to accelerate global efforts to reduce emissions. In turn, this promotes international collaboration, reinforcing the impact of SBTs.

To get involved, entities can:

  • Set their SBTs, considering sector-specific guidance
  • Collaborate with other organisations for climate action
  • Participate in global initiatives promoting SBT adoption

Summing up

Science Based Targets (SBTs) offer a structured approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They are vital in addressing climate change by aligning with the Paris Agreement goals. Businesses can benefit from setting SBTs, as they demonstrate commitment to environment preservation and can enhance their reputation.

Getting involved in SBTs involves a few essential steps:

  • Understand the initiative – Familiarise yourself with the concepts, principles, and methods used to determine SBTs by exploring resources available on the Science Based Targets initiative website.
  • Determine your targets – Use the tools and methodologies to calculate your emission reduction targets based on your sector, company size, and other factors.
  • Commit to action – Formally commit to adopting SBTs within your organisation, helping drive meaningful global change.

In summary, SBTs provide a robust framework for organisations to develop emission reduction strategies grounded in scientific evidence. By adopting these targets, businesses can contribute to a more sustainable future while reaping the benefits of enhanced credibility and consumer trust.

Frequently asked questions

The process starts with research. Companies analyse current emissions, identify reduction opportunities, and plan for progress. They follow originating guidelines for target-setting. External validation helps ensure targets match global standards

SBTI criteria shape targets by providing procedural guidance. Companies follow the requirements to set ambitious goals, contributing to global sustainability. These criteria ensure uniformity and comparability among businesses.

Science-based targets protect nature by tackling climate change proactively. Organisations reduce emissions to fulfil their environmental, social, and economic responsibilities. Adopting science-based targets accelerates the global implementation of sustainable practices.

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Author

Rob Boyle
Rob built Emission Index to collect and share data, trends and opportunities to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and expedite the energy transition.

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