The consensus and commitment to act on climate change from businesses, political groups and individuals continues to grow across the globe.
Also continuing to grow are planetary temperatures, with 2016 having the dubious honour of being the planet’s warmest year since record-keeping began in the 1880s. In fact, 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, according to the respected NOAA (The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Further to this, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has announced a record surge of atmospheric CO2 levels in 2016, 50% higher than the average of the last 10 years.
What really needs to rise are our ambitions, which have been collectively set far too low.
If we are going to keep global temperature increases to below 2oC, the corporate sector will need to play a huge role in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Many companies will have to get rid of the ad hoc approach to carbon reduction of setting arbitrary targets over equally arbitrary time periods. While this has made inroads, it is no longer enough and this is where Science Based Targets come in.
What Is a Science Based Target?
Science Based Targets is a joint initiative between the CDP, UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute and the WWF to assist businesses in setting both ambitious and meaningful greenhouse gas reduction targets.
A carbon emissions target is defined as science-based if it is in line with the scale of reductions required to keep global temperature increase below 2oC compared to pre-industrial temperatures; as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Why Do SBTs Make Sense from a Business Perspective?
The 1,000 largest global companies account for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions; consequently, businesses have a key role to play in keeping rising temperatures below this 2oC threshold.
Companies that adopt Science Based Targets build long-term business value, drive efficiency and safeguard their future profitability in a number of important ways:
The transition to a low-carbon business will drive the development of new technologies and operational practices. Businesses that adopt ambitious targets now will lead innovation and transformation tomorrow.
Reduce regulatory uncertainty
Taking action now will help businesses stay a step ahead of future policies and regulations to limit carbon emissions. Companies which are looked upon as leaders are better placed to influence policy makers and help shape new legislation.
Strengthen investor confidence and credibility
Organisations taking a leadership position on climate strengthen their credibility and status amongst their customers, employees, policy makers and campaign groups. Around half of consumers worldwide believe climate change will have a negative effect on their own lives, so taking a proactive stance now will increase integrity.
Improve profitability and competitiveness
Adopting Science Based Targets can ensure a lean, efficient, and resilient business in a future where fossil fuel based resources will become increasingly more expensive. This could make the difference between businesses being profitable or unprofitable.
There are a variety of methodologies available to help calculate Science Based Targets such as Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach (SDA), C-FACT and the 3% Solution. The most appropriate methodology depends on the organisation’s plans for growth, maturity and sector.
Our Approach to Science Based Targets
Anthesis is working with a number of companies to identify the best methodology them, measure key metrics, set a Science Based Target and then, importantly, identify the steps they will need to take to meet them. Key stages are:
- Model current carbon performance and forecast ‘business as usual’ performance
- Assess SBT methodology and identify the most suitable for the company
- Set Science Based Targets
- Develop tools to evaluate reduction methods and analyse business operations to identify hot spots
- Review targets and progress annually