Creating Science Based Targets

What are Science-Based Targets?

Science-based targets (SBTs) are greenhouse gas reduction goals set by businesses. They are defined as “science-based” when they align with the scale of reductions required to keep global temperature increases well-below 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures. SBTs provide businesses with pathways to sustainable transformational change to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. 

The Science-based Target Initiative (SBTI) outlines four incentives for companies to set SBTs:

  • Drive innovation
  • Reduce regulatory uncertainty
  • Strengthen investor confidence and credibility
  • Improve profitability and competitiveness

How do you set a science-based target to achieve net-zero? 

Corporate support for science-based emissions targets has grown exponentially in recent years, with more than 1,200 businesses now having verified their targets voluntarily. The SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard is the world’s first science-based certification of companies’ net-zero targets. The certification is given to businesses if their decarbonisation strategies are in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping planetary warming to 1.5C.

The Standard was developed in consultation with an independent Expert Advisory Group, made up of experts from academia, civil society, science and business. 

How can Businesses set Science-Based Targets?

Setting a SBT involves developing emissions-reduction targets consistent with the world’s carbon mitigation requirements to keep the globe below 2°C warming and align with Paris Agreement emission reductions forecasts.

The process begins by submitting a commitment letter that, once received, recognises the business as ‘committed’ to aligning emissions reduction targets to 1.5°C. Subsequently, the business will then be added to the SBT website and partner CDP and We Mean Business sites. Following this, businesses will have 24 months to complete the remaining steps.

Businesses must develop targets in line with the science based target criteria. Following the successful development of SBTs, businesses must submit these, where they will be reviewed and validated against the SBT criteria.

Once approved, the SBT will announce the business as part of those ‘companies taking action’. The business must then make public its commitment within 6 months by announcing its targets and informing stakeholders.

Setting SBTs involves tracking and reporting on this target over time, including disclosures through CDP, annual reports, sustainability reports and the company website.

How can Businesses Understand their Emissions?

To set SBTs, businesses must identify company emissions, based upon three scopes established by the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard.

Scope 1 and 2 emissions are those that are owned  by a business. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from within the organisation, such as natural gas and fleet vehicle usage. Scope 2 emissions relate to indirect emissions from the production of energy eventually used by the organisation, such as electricity purchased. As scope 1 and 2 emissions can be directly controlled, setting appropriate targets and committing to them is relatively straightforward.

Scope 3 emissions Scope 3 emissions refer to a company’s emissions within their supply chain. Of companies who have set science-based targets, over 90% of them address scope 3 reductions.

How can Groundwork help you to set science-based targets?

Our expert environmental consultants will work with you, utilising industry leading tools, to calculate and forecast a comprehensive pathway for your business to reach net-zero emissions.

So whether you’re just starting out with a carbon management plan, looking to undertake a formal climate review or you simply want to take some positive actions to help tackle the Climate Emergency, we can help. 

Contact our experts today to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.