Selecting the Right Science Based Target (SBT) Approach for your Company

sbt science based target - ariel beach forest

jacinta young anthesis

Jacinta Young

Marketing Communications Manager


Countries worldwide are transitioning to low-carbon economies in line with the international Paris Agreement, with a central aim to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to further pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Going forward, strong emissions reduction strategies are integral to the sustainable business practices of an organisation. The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)offers the most credible approach for setting emission reduction targets, verifying set company targets, and ensuring they are in-line with climate science.

Under the SBTi, a company must set scope 1 and 2 targets in line with climate science. If a company’s scope 3 emissions trigger the SBT scope 3 thresholds (i.e. scope 3 emissions constitute greater than 40% of the entire inventory), then a scope 3 target must also be set. A lot of companies are hesitant to consider an SBT for this reason, due to the complex nature of scope 3 emissions in a company’s value chain and hence the ability of the company to influence these emissions and achieve meaningful emissions reductions.

If required, the scope 3 target is not as stringently aligned with climate science (like scope 1 and 2 targets need to be), and has its separate requirements compared to scope 1 and 2 under the SBTi. Therefore, the company’s under the SBTi typically develop two targets; one set SBT for scope 1 and 2 emissions and then a separate scope 3 targets under the SBTi.

The SBTi expects companies to demonstrate sector leadership. That is, companies should not default to the target that is easiest to meet but should instead use the most ambitious decarbonisation scenarios and methods, that lead to the earliest reductions and the least cumulative emissions.

Some Australian companies which have an approved SBT are Origin Energy, Transurban Group, Investa, and Woolworths Group Limited. This list is rapidly growing as well as the amount of Australian companies publicly committing to developing their own SBT. Recently Intrepid Travel had its target approved becoming the first tour operator in the world with an SBT. Anthesis was proud to work closely with Intrepid to deliver this milestone achievement.

Below is illustrated a high-level summary of the different considerations in setting an SBT target for scope 1 and 2, and scope 3, plus overall considerations.


Selecting the right SBT approach requires knowledge of the company’s future Business-As-Usual (BAU) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) trajectory and an understanding of the emission hotspots in the inventory; what are the main emissions drivers and where can significant emission reduction initiatives be implemented to ultimately achieve the set SBT. The right approach also depends on the company’s size, business type and industry where there are specific methodologies for certain sectors.

Setting an SBT is a great way forward for a company, which will result in real emissions reductions and cost savings for the business, as well as showing sector leadership to industry peers, investors and other stakeholders.