How to Set Science-Based Targets

SBT guidance and essential resources for businesses

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.

Want to know what you need to do next?

Download our SBT Health Assessment

5 Steps to setting a Science Based Target

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SCOPE 3 TARGETS ON OUR SUPPLIER ENGAGEMENT PAGE

scope 1 2 and 3 diagram

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.

Podcast Episode | Activating Sustainability: Science-based Targets

The fall of 2019 provided a windfall of global commitments to address climate change. Listen to expert Josh Whitney discuss the network effects of COP25, ClimateWeek NYC and more on “Activating Sustainability”  the Anthesis Podcast. It covers the latest trends and insights for corporate leaders and a progress update on science-based targets and businesses committing to the 1.5 degree pledge.

Science Based Targets Webinar Series | 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

Explore the rest of the series:

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