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 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
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.
How the SBTi Net Zero Standard affects corporations
Anthesis’ Tobias Parker talks about how the SBTi Net Zero standard impacts corporations.
Listen in to our Science-based Targets podcast episode
Listen is as Antheis’ Chris Peterson discusses climate change, Science-Based Targets and businesses committing to the 1.5 degree target.
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
Developing Science-based Targets for Equinix
Situation Equinix required support to develop a range of climate target options for its scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Impact The first data centre company to make a global 2030 climate-neutral commitment across its entire footprint. Solutions Situation Equinix is the world’s digital infrastructure company, operating 200+ data centres across the globe and providing…
Developing Scope 3 Science-based Targets for Target
Situation Building on its operational scope 1 and 2 emissions reduction goals, Target needed to develop its first full scope 3 emissions inventory, evaluate and then set a science-based target (SBT) to fulfil the requirements of its SBTi commitment. Impact Target achieved an industry-leading 30% absolute emissions reduction by 2030 and engaged 80% of suppliers in setting…
Setting Science-based Targets Across Hg’s Portfolio
Situation Hg was adopting science-based targets (SBT) per SBTi private equity guidance for its private equity investments. Impact Hg committed to SBTs, targeting a ~90% reduction in scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions across its 40+ companies by 2050. Solutions Situation In 2021, the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi) launched new Guidance for the private equity sector to enable…
Setting Science-based Targets for PayPal
Situation PayPal had to ambition to set science-based targets (SBTs) for PayPal aligned with a 1.5°C reduction pathway to achieve its net zero goals. Impact PayPal committed to reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions by 25%, scope 3 emissions (FERA) by 25%, and ensuring 75% of suppliers have SBTs by 2025. Pledged to achieve net…
Setting Science-based Targets for SSEN Distribution
Situation SSEN Distribution wanted to set science-based targets (SBTs) in line with a 1.5°C trajectory, aiming for a 55% reduction in GHG emissions by 2033. Impact Solutions Situation Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is a District Network Operator (DNO) that distributes power to 3.7 million homes across the UK. SSEN is responsible for maintaining…
Setting Net Zero Goals for Ecolab
Situation Ecolab wanted to develop a suite of climate commitments that built upon its strong track record of achieving operational emissions reductions alongside its other environmental and customer facing sustainability goals. Impact Ecolab committed to achieving Net Zero by 2050 and a 1.5°C SBT. Goals include achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030, electrifying the global…
Setting Net Zero Targets for Henry Boot PLC
Situation Henry Boot PLC developed a strategy framework to achieve net zero carbon for all direct greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Impact This project will help Henry Boot achieve its direct emissions goals by 2030 and lays the foundation for the business to understand and tackle its indirect scope 3 emissions. Solutions Situation Henry Boot PLC developed a…