by Carbon Intelligence
May 13th, 2021
9 mins

Science-based targets

What is a science-based emission reduction target?

Organisations have a clear responsibility in helping the world transition to a zero-carbon economy and we believe science-based targets are the most credible way for your company to address this challenge.

Targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are considered “science-based” if they are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement, that aims to keep global temperature increase from pre-industrial times to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C


The Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi)

The SBTi is a partnership between CDP (an international non-profit that allows companies to disclose their environmental impact), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

To date, over 1,200 leading companies have formally committed and over 590 companies have had their targets officially approved. These companies have a combined market capitalisation of over $20.5 trillion USD, which equates to almost 20% of the global market.

Science-based targets are becoming the norm in the food and beverage processing industry. As of November 2020 45% of a high impact sample assessed by the SBTi in the agricultural, food and beverage sector had committed to science-based targets or had their target approved.

What’s more, your customers are setting science-based targets and will expect their suppliers to as well. The move towards a zero-carbon world is well underway so now is the ideal time to set your own science-based target – and join other organisations at the forefront of sustainability.


Understanding your emissions

Your science-based target must cover company-wide Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, as defined by the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, and Scope 3 emissions in most cases. If your Scope 3 emissions make up more than 40% of your footprint, then they must be included. The GHG Protocol defines three ‘scopes’ of emissions caused by your company’s operations.

SCOPE 1: Direct emissions by your organisation, e.g. from burning fuels such as natural gas for heating or petrol to fuel cars.

SCOPE 2: Indirect emissions from purchased electricity, cooling, heat or steam.

SCOPE 3: Other indirect emissions along your value chain from your suppliers or customers, such as business travel, purchased goods & services and waste.

SBTi Process

Step 1: Commit to the science-based target process
Submitting a commitment letter to SBTi indicates that your company will work towards setting science-based targets for emissions reduction. Your company will then be listed as “Committed” on the SBTi website and you have two years to set the targets.

Step 2: Submit your target for SBTi validation
Once your target has been developed and decided, your company must submit it in the precise format and detail required by the SBTi. They will then verify your submission against their rigorous criteria, and inform you whether your target has been formally approved. Optimising your submission with Carbon Intelligence can help reduce the likelihood of SBTi deciding that your target needs revision or further development.

Step 3: Announce your science-based target
Once approved, you can publicly announce your target. You will be able to use the SBTi logo to demonstrate that your target has been verified in line with the scientific consensus on emissions reduction – and will be listed on the SBTi website as approved. Carbon Intelligence can support your company in communicating its science-based target commitment effectively.

It’s also possible to commit and submit your target at the same time without a public commitment statement.


Key business benefits

  1. Cost savings: Improve efficiency, save money and reduce exposure to carbon tax
  2. Brand reputation: Differentiate your brand, show leadership and meet customer expectations
  3. Drive change and deliver impact: By setting ambitious goals your organisation will support the UK’s net 2050 target and the fight against climate change
  4. Risk mitigation: Future-proof against sustainability legislation
  5. Resilience: Build climate resilience in your supply chains
  6. Clear direction and strategy: Strong partnerships to start engaging supply chain on SBTs and emissions
  7. Confidence in Scope 3 data: Robust, scientific and transparent process and approach
  8. Board-level engagement: Cross organisation buy-in and accountability

Stakeholder decision making is increasingly influenced by the commitments of their suppliers and aligning your targets to climate science will ensure they are credible and stand up to scrutiny. Target setting should be thought of as a strategic decision in your business.


What are the next steps my company can take to setting a science-based target?

When developing your science-based targets, there are three key steps that you need to follow:

  • Calculate your full Scope 1, 2 and 3 footprint to ensure you understand the impacts of your own operations, suppliers and customers
  • Set reduction targets in line with climate science
  • Develop a strategy and roadmap to achieve the targets that aligns with your company goals

Carbon Intelligence considers setting a science-based target as one of the strongest and most credible ways a company can demonstrate their commitment to tackling climate change. We are proud to have  worked with 1 in 3 UK companies on their approved science-based targets. Contact us today

Carbon Intelligence has supported 1 in 3 UK approved science-based targets and 43% of all UK targets aligned to 1.5C including Avara Foods, Nomads and Nando’s

Download The Guide to Science-Based Targets

Download edie Explains: Scope 3 Carbon Emissions


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