Setting emissions reduction targets is a vital step in any corporate sustainability strategy. Without a goal to aim for, staff can lack motivation and progress towards environmental improvements can be slow or non-existent.
Determining where to set the target can be difficult. Could setting science based targets be the right choice for your organization?
What Is a Science Based Target?
A science based target (SBT) is simply a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target that is in line with climate science.
By signing the Paris agreement in 2015, the majority of the world’s governments committed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre- industrial temperatures. This is designed to avoid catastrophic climate change, as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
To be considered ‘science based’, the greenhouse gas reduction targets adopted by an organization should be in line with the level of decarbonization needed to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.
Why Is Setting an SBT Good for Business?
Science-based target setting can drive ambition and increase innovation, helping you develop new technologies and operational practices. According to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), more than 60% of company executives said that science based targets drive innovation.
More than a third of executives also said that they have improved their regulatory resilience by setting science based targets. SBTs help you stay ahead of climate regulation and, as an environmental leader, you are better placed to influence policymakers and future legislation.
Setting SBTs can also strengthen investor confidence and boost your company’s credibility. Businesses that establish themselves as climate leaders greatly improve their reputation amongst stakeholders including investors, customers, employees and environmental groups.
More than half of company executives improved their profitability and competitiveness by setting science based targets. Ambitious goals help make your business more efficient and sustainable in a future where resources – particularly fossil fuels – become increasingly expensive.
Companies can also be recognized for their science-based target setting efforts through the CDP disclosure platform.
How Does an Organization Commit to a Science Based Target?
The SBTI has set out a 4-step procedure for companies that wish to set a science based target. The steps are:
- Sign and submit a commitment letter to indicate that your company will work to set a science-based emission reduction target.
- Develop a target within 24 months of submitting the commitment letter.
- Submit your target for validation against the SBTI criteria.
- After successful validation, announce the target. You may publicize the target using the SBTI logo.
Your corporate SBT must incorporate a number of specific criteria including boundary (scope 1 and 2 emissions and relevant greenhouse gases); timeframe (between 5 and 15 years); the level of ambition; Scope 3 screening and target; and reporting.
Can Carbon Offsets Help Meet Science Based Targets?
Offsetting can’t be counted towards the achievement of a science based target, as companies must reduce emissions through direct action within their own boundaries or through their value chains. NativeEnergy’s Help BuildTM projects that are implemented within a company’s value chain can count toward its Scope 3 science based target, through.
Organizations that wish to finance value chain reductions or additional emission reductions beyond their science based target should choose projects that offer additional social and environmental benefits, such as Native