Understanding science-based targets

Understanding the ins and outs of science-based targets could bring significant benefits for businesses

Net Hero Podcast

To reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, we must halve global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. Achieving these targets will be imperative for remaining within the 1.5°C pathway, as set out in the Paris Agreement.

Surpassing the 1.5°C limit could result in climate catastrophe, making the weather events that are wreaking havoc around the world more frequent and extreme. Now more than ever, it is vital for companies to become familiar with science-based targets.

Science-based targets provide a clear and comprehensive pathway for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This is crucial in preventing the worst impacts of climate change, offering businesses a clear advantage in a carbon-conscious future.

Understanding the ins and outs of science-based targets could bring significant benefits for businesses. So, what are science-based targets and how can they impact businesses?

What is a science-based target?

Science-based targets came about as a result of the Paris Agreement in 2015. In this legally binding treaty, 195 parties committed to limiting global warming to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Then in 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that global warming should not exceed 1.5°C.

To achieve this, GHG emissions must halve by 2030, and drop to net zero by 2050. A ‘science-based’ emissions target stays in line with the scale of reductions required to meet these objectives. These goalposts track progress, providing the private sector with a clear idea of how quickly they need to reduce their GHG emissions, to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

In the global race towards net zero, science-based targets will become crucial for business growth across all sectors. Not only do they help tackle climate change, but they boost a company’s competitiveness in an ever-changing market.

Science-based initiatives

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) was set up by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The group supports companies that have set science-based targets. It has been found that the positive effects for these businesses include increased innovation, strengthened investor confidence and improved profitability.

The SBTi also:

  1. Defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting, via the support of a Technical Advisory Group.
  2. Offers resources, workshops and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption.
  3. Independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.

The benefits

There are many benefits to setting science-based targets. By significantly reducing emissions, you are not only building a brighter future for the planet but also a potentially profitable one for your business.

Here are some of the benefits of setting science-based targets:

  • Excellent corporate social responsibility credentials – for large corporates there is a growing responsibility to take action against climate change; science-based targets are a way to do this.
  • Deliver a competitive advantage – integrating environmental policies into your business strategy helps your business to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  • Reduce large costs – lowering emissions often requires a closer look at your energy portfolio and making your utilities as efficient and low carbon as possible. This can result in significant savings for your business.
  • Increase innovation – 63% of company execs have said that science-based targets drive innovation.