Two Key Developments for Science Based Targets

October 23, 2018 | News

In the recent opinion piece from Anthesis Director Josh Whitney reacting to the IPCC Special Report, he highlights that companies committed to Science Based Targets play a leadership role in driving change. Here we provide an update for utilising SBTs in your sustainability strategy, one step towards answering Josh’s call to action.

Is your company currently in the process of developing its science-based target or perhaps thinking about setting one? If you answer yes to either question, then these two recent events will be of importance:

1. New aggressive targets required:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the entity that has helped to establish the science behind the 2015 Paris Agreement and insight into the necessary global GHG reductions to maintain life on this planet as we know it – released new research indicating that current progress and commitments are no longer effective in getting us close to curbing the worst effects of climate change. To bridge this gap, GHG emissions must be reduced on a pathway that keeps global temperature from rising above 1.5°C by 2050, instead of the 2°C bare minimum currently being used by Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) as the rubric for leading corporates to set their targets against. SBTi has acknowledged and publicly supported this new IPCC finding, and anticipates to re-align its guidance, resources, tools and validation protocols in early 2019.

What does this mean?

  • These findings require a shift in current “best practice” that roughly translates from a 1.7% year-on-year (compounded) minimum absolute GHG emissions reduction, to a more aggressive >3% year-on-year (compounded) minimum reduction.
  • Increased rigor in target setting could lead to:
    • Increased expectations being pushed into supply chains
    • Increased scrutiny around corporate preparedness for the physical impacts of climate change
    • Greater focus on how companies in all sectors can take action to protect forests and oceans, which play a critical role in regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • SBTi will not require the 492 organisations already signed to SBTi to change their goals immediately, and during the transition will, for a period, concurrently offer tools (and presumably validation) for both 2°C & 1.5°C pathways.

2. New option to “fast track” validation of your SBT:

At the beginning of October, SBTi introduced a new paid target validation service that will allow companies to submit their proposed SBTs for review. For approximately US$5,000 an organisation may submit up to two targets (1 preliminary and 1 official or 2 official) to a SBTi Target Validation Team and will receive the following:

  • For each assessment, one comprehensive target validation report including recommendations to address non-compliances if applicable and a written decision letter within 30 business days
  • Up to 60 min of feedback conversations after each assessment
  • Assistance with formulating the final wording of a target for official validations only

What does this mean?

  • Organisations now have the ability to receive a quicker assessment with direct detailed feedback, access to experts to provide specific technical guidance, and dedicated support
  • This new service will help to support mainstream adoption of SBTs via a process with improved efficiency and shorter turnaround times, designed to meet the vigorous market demand for SBTs
  • As of January 2019, all SBT validations will exclusively utilise this new paid service and will no longer have access to the current no-fee validation
  • Between October 2018 and January 2019 there will be a limit of one free target submission per company
  • Each re-submission of targets under the new validation service will cost an additional US$ 2,500 (+VAT)

Next Steps

To learn more about SBTs, visit our dedicated Science Based Targets page to find more SBT insights from our experts.

Want to discuss any of these updates or need help with your SBTs? You can contact me below to start a conversation.

Curtis Harnanan
Principal Consultant, North America

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