Wednesday 12 May 2021

Climate action, not hot air – why your business needs science-based targets

Climate action, not hot air – why your business needs science-based targets

More and more large companies made commitments to reach net zero emissions last year. But only 16 of the FTSE 100 had a strategy to realistically meet their commitments, EcoAct reported.

I agree with the Carbon Trust that science-based targets are essential if we’re to stay on track and achieve net zero. That’s why at SSE we’re committed to implementing ours.

What are science-based targets?

Science-based targets are goals that businesses set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – Scope 1-3 emissions under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.

Targets are considered “science-based” if they’re aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Defined and validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), they’re now a globally accepted standard for corporate carbon reduction.

Why set science-based targets?

Talking to stakeholders every day, I’m hearing loud and clear what global surveys also tell us: embracing sustainability is no longer optional.

Consumers are demanding action on climate change. Employees are looking for jobs that make a difference Investor decisions are increasingly driven by environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors.

And regulators worldwide are turning the spotlight on climate-related disclosures. In the UK, reporting aligne to the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) will be mandatory from 2025.

Science-based targets prove you’re delivering on your climate commitments. But they also make great business sense, too – to save money, stimulate innovation and plan for long-term, sustainable growth.

How to set science-based targets?

The SBTi provides a clearly defined step-by-step process for setting targets. You set your initial commitment, develop an emissions reduction plan, submit it to SBTi for validation, then announce your target to stakeholders. After that, you report company-wide emissions and progress against your target every year.

For example, at SSE we’ve committed to reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 from a 2018 base year. The reduction we’ve achieved since 2017/18 is the equivalent of around 2m tonnes of carbon (CO2e).

You can track how we’re doing in the SSE plc Sustainability Report. Science-based targets, combined with our commitments aligned to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are now a key element of the SSE Group’s ESG reporting.

Targets for net zero

At SSE, we’re working to drive global change as a Principal Partner for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). We’re expecting renewed commitments from governments to build on the Paris Agreement. That means new demands for us all to work towards net zero.

Now’s the time to review the action your business is taking on climate change. By setting a science-based target, we can all prove our commitments aren’t just hot air, but are driving effective climate action and sustainable growth.

Using SSE’s experience of SDGs and science-based targets, we’re committed to helping you deliver on yours. Watch this space for practical ways your business can reduce emissions and prove you’re making a difference for net zero.

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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