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Science Based Targets Initiative explained...

5 July 2022

science-based targets
Science-Based Targets Initiative


Over the past few decades there have been several agreements, pledges and initiatives which have all been developed to start tackling climate change.  

In particular, the human activities causing greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. As economies and markets grow overtime, so do the emissions being emitted into the atmosphere.  

A recent initiative that has been developed is the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).  

What is the SBTi?

The Science-Based Targets initiative, founded in 2015, is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).  

In the lead up to the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, the SBTi’s aim was simply to help companies set targets to start reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  

The SBTi has since developed, with the aim to mobilise the private sector, encourage urgent climate action and guide companies when setting science-based targets. 

So, what is a 'Science-Based Target'?

A science-based target is a clear pathway defined for companies and financial institutions to reduce GHG emissions, prevent the impacts of climate change and help to future-proof business growth. 

They are classed as ‘Science-based’ because they are aligned with the most up-to-date climate science and are in line with achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

Who can join the initiative by setting a target?

Financial institutions and companies across all sectors are eligible to get involved in the initiative by setting a Science-based target. To assist companies, SBTi has developed sector-specific guidance for varying business areas. 

Companies operating in the highest-emitting sectors can join (which the SBTi encourages) because those companies will play a crucial role in ensuring a zero-carbon economy is achieved.  

However, the validation of the fossil fuel sectors targets has been paused as well as commitments made by fossil fuel companies. The SBTi is progressively working on a target setting methodology for this sector. 

Additionally, SBTi doesn’t assess targets for cities, local governments, public sector and education institutions, or not-for-profit organisations.

Science-Based Target setting so far...

Throughout 2021, the number of companies in the SBTi’s doubled to 2,253 – 1,082 companies with targets approved by the initiative and 1,171 companies committed to setting a science-based target. 

More recently, around 500 companies between January and March this year have set or committed to setting a science-based target via the initiative.   

The top three industries with approved targets and commitments are services (469), manufacturing (341), food, beverage, and agriculture (252).

Why setting a Science-Based Target is beneficial?

The obvious benefit of setting and committing to a science-based target is it reduces GHG emissions which is great for protecting the planet from the damaging effects of climate change – which aren’t slowing down.  

As the environment benefits, so does your business starting with the reputation of your brand.  As consumers become more conscious of their decisions and the effect it leaves on the environment, the more they will become aware of the brands that are taking positive action and those that are not. 

Ethical consumption continues to thrive, and businesses should look to showcase their sustainability efforts - “79% of corporate executives surveyed found a strengthened brand reputation to be one of the most significant business benefits for their company from committing to the Science Based Targets initiative.” 

 Investors continue to extend their interest in environmental policies within businesses, action taken by companies to tackle the climate challenge will help bolster investor confidence. 

“52% of execs say their science-based target commitment has boosted investor confidence in their business.” - 

The benefits don’t stop there, businesses can become more resilient against environmental regulations, more opportunities to innovate and maintain or gain competitive advantage. 

Finally, setting science-based targets helps increase bottom-line savings. 

“Almost a third (29%) are already seeing bottom-line savings thanks to their ambitious commitment.” -

Getting started with Science-Based Target setting...

Trident is already assisting businesses with their net zero aspirations, helping businesses calculate their carbon footprint and explore emission reduction opportunities to help reduce the impact on the environment. 

Our experts will help you to: 

  • Understand your emissions and determine the appropriate calculation methodology for scope 3 emissions relevant to your business 
  • Calculate your carbon footprint and develop a carbon reporting strategy 
  • Develop your net zero strategy 
  • Create your carbon reduction plan 
  • Support carbon reduction projects 

When developing a net zero strategy, setting a science-based target and committing to it, as a part of your strategy is one of the best ways to contribute to global emissions reductions and ensure you future proof your business.  

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