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How to Set Science-Based Targets

SBT guidance and essential resources for businesses

Welcome to our dedicated
Science-Based Targets Library

Here you’ll find a host of resources to help guide you through the process of setting and achieving a science-based target (SBT). Join a growing list of companies by reducing your greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint, in-line with climate science.

Resources To help you to understand: 
  • What are SBTs and how do you set one?
  • SBT requirements
  • How to evaluate methodologies
  • How to prioritize and implement GHG emission reduction activities.
  • The tool Anthesis uses for data collection in the supply chain
  • How data visualization can inform decision-making & enable reporting.

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 temperaturesSBTs provide businesses with pathways to sustainable transformational change to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.  

The business case for companies to set targets is clear. The Science-based Target Initiative outlined four incentives for companies to set SBTs:

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

5 Steps to setting a Science Based Target

Anthesis supports organisations to develop and set their SBTs.


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How to 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 company as ‘committed’ to aligning emissions reduction targets to 1.5°C. The company is then added to the SBT website and partner CDP and We Mean Business sites. Companies then have 24 months to complete the remaining steps.

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

Once approved, the SBT will announce the company as part of those ‘companies taking action’. The company 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.

Understanding your emissions

Setting SBTs begins with the identification of company emissions, considering the three scopes of emissions defined by the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard: Scope 1, 2 and 3.

Scope 1 and 2 emissions are ‘owned’ by your company. Scope 1 emissions constitute 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.

What about Scope 3 Targets?

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. These scope 3 reductions can be met via absolute reductions or from a large portion of the company’s suppliers setting their own targets. The real work of meeting these targets is around shortening the cycle of supplier capacity-building, moving suppliers quickly from understanding to action on climate.


Discover our SCOPE 3 SUPPLIER ENGAGEMENT services

Anthesis Resources to Support Your Journey

These resources are intended to help you establish a foundational understanding of how to set science based targets, how to assess SBT tools and methodologies, and how to respond to SBTi criteria udpates.

Resources library:

  • Three webinars exploring different topics within science-based targets
  • A podcast episode covering the network effects of COP25, ClimateWeek NYC  latest trends and insights for organizations pursuing SBTs
  • A client example outlining the process of supporting Target Corporation to set a Scope 3 target
  • An overview of our SBT data visualisation tool
  • Our top six SBT blogs covering a range of insights

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Anthesis’ Tobias Parker talks about how the SBTi Net Zero standard impacts corporations.

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Webinar 1 | Science-Based Targets: Reducing carbon across the value chain 

View this webinar to learn how companies can evaluate and meet SBTs across value chains.

This webinar will help you:

  • Evaluate the various methodologies and typical requirements in order to set SBTs
  • Think about how to prioritize and implement GHG emissions reduction activities
  • Understand the tools available for data collection in the supply chain, and assess how data visualization can inform decision-making & enable reporting

Webinar 2 | A deeper dive into science-based targets

View this webinar for a more in-depth look at SBTs and next steps after starting the process.

This webinar will help you:

  • Consider the tools needed to assess SBTs
  • Understand the methodologies Anthesis uses to help clients evaluate and set SBTs

Webinar 3 | SBTi’s new criteria and requirements for climate leadership

View this webinar to learn about SBTI’s version 4.0 target setting criteria in effect from October 2019.

This webinar will help you:

  • Understand how SBTi’s updated criteria affect requirements for science-based targets and scope 3 emissions management
  • Understand how to determine whether your current initiatives are aligned with Good (2°C), Better (well below 2°C) or Best (1.5°C).

To work toward achieving our science-based target, we’ve partnered with expert Anthesis to ensure we could meet the rigorous requirements of an SBTi-approved goal for Scope 3 emissions.

Former VP of Corporate Responsibility
Target Corporation

Client Example | Supporting Target Corporation to set a Scope 3 SBT

Anthesis was selected as the technical partner to help Target set a science-based target for their Scope 3 value chain emissions.

  • Analytics: A comprehensive scope 3 footprint assessment as well as target and initiative modeling.
  • Solution: Helped set an ambitious scope 3 absolute reduction and supplier engagement science-based target for Target’s upstream value chain.
  • Implementation: Supporting and driving the implementation of Target’s scope 3 target. This involves coordinating supplier engagement and developing training programs, as well as identifying, managing and accounting for value chain emissions reductions from suppliers.

Our SBT Tool

Live demo of our SBT Data Visualization Tool

Our online password-protected data visualization tool allows you to create and forecast GHG emissions for your business and test the impact of reduction strategies towards achieving SBTs. Anthesis uses Tableau to provide clients with cost-effective, quick-to-deliver data visualization and analytics tools enabling us to dive deeper into the data, and manipulate it for more answers. Tableau’s business-intelligent analytical approach excels at presenting modeling and scenario analysis projects like SBTs. 

Explore the SBT Dashboard here

Click across the tabs at the top of the dashboard and then click within the dashboard to adjust inputs and see the resulting visualizations.

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