Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) Science-based Target Guidance

21st September 2022

a farm surrounded by a forest

What is FLAG?

Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has developed sector-specific guidance for the forestry, land and agriculture (FLAG) sectors. FLAG offer a method to create separate Science-Based Targets (SBT) that include land-related emissions and removals. FLAG SBTs apply to a company’s land use change and land management emissions alongside any carbon removals and storage.   

The FLAG guidance was released on the 28th September 2022. FLAG has fundamental implications for companies with SBTs and those processing SBTs as there will be a requirement to separate GHG inventories into FLAG and non-FLAG emissions, set separate science-based targets for FLAG and non-FLAG emissions and publicly commit to zero deforestation. All present the need for specialised support combing an understanding of the agri-food sector and in-depth expertise in setting SBTs.   

SBTI FLAG target setting guidance aims to define:  

  1. Who must set FLAG specific targets  
  2. What is classed as a FLAG and NON-FLAG emission and high-level boundaries (e.g. inclusion of Land Use Change (LUC))  
  3. The role of removals, acceptable nature-based removals and review the accounting of reductions 
  4. Target setting approaches, ambition requirements and target language 
  5. Reporting requirements 
  6. Deforestation commitment requirement  

What are FLAG emissions?

To set a FLAG target, companies must first accurately calculate their land-related emissions. The categories of land-related emissions are detailed below: 

  • Direct land use change associated with deforestation and forest degradation
  • Indirect land use change associated with deforestation and forest degradation

  • CH4 & N2O from manure management
  • N2O from fertiliser
  • N2O from crop residue
  • CO2 from machinery use on farm
  • CO2 from fertiliser production
  • CH4 enteric emissions (Meat-Beef, Dairy)
  • CH4 and N2O emissions from agricultural waste burning
  • CH4 emissions from flooded soil (for lowland rice only)
  • Forest management
  • Afforestation and reforestation
  • Agroforestry
  • Soil sequestration carbon
  • Biochar

Who will be affected? 

FLAG impacts organisations in SBTi designated sections or those with the FLAG emissions in the value chain. These include: 

  • Organisations with more than 20% FLAG emissions across all scopes
  • Forest and paper products 
  • Food and beverage production or process 
  • Food staples and retailing 
  • Tobacco 

How can Anthesis help?

We offer a flexible approach to assist organisations across industries to adapt to and adopt this new guidance. We can support you through the following 8 steps: 

Communicate the new FLAG guidance to your key stakeholders and the impact of FLAG on GHG accounting and future SBTi reporting

  • Review your key operational activities around forestry, land and agriculture 
  • Conduct a strategic review of the organisations current SBT activity
  • Review current GHG inventory analysis for your entire product portfolio 
  • Complete inventory screening to identify and map your FLAG emissions and removals to determine whether FLAG is relevant to your organisation
  • Use the Anthesis ‘FLAG Inventory Tool’ to separately calculate fossil GHG emissions, biogenic GHG emissions and biogenic GHG removals 
  • Create a framework allowing you to continue accounting for FLAG and non-FLAG emissions separately

Provide data collection guidance and a template for future use of the FLAG inventory tool

Use interactive dashboards, or your reporting structure to monitor future data inputs identifying hotspots 

  • Review reduction strategies toward targets, including: 
  • Agroforestry/Regen-Ag strategies  
  • Renewable energy projects 
  • Infrastructure improvements 
  • Internal carbon pricing 
  • Identify FLAG emissions in priority supply chains
  • Engage your supply chain to establish further KPI’s and targets
  • Review and implement potential strategies surrounding Incentivising/rewarding reductions of FLAG emission hotspot areas in supply chains against KPI data