March 18, 2024

The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi): Set Climate Goals for Business

The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi): Set Climate Goals for Business

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) serves as a corporate climate action organization, empowering companies and financial institutions globally to contribute to the fight against the climate crisis. It was founded by the CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI, and WWF. 

Science-based targets guide companies in creating a clearly-defined path to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals which limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 

In this article, we’ll share what a science-based target is, what the steps are to disclosing progress on science-based targets, and why achieving those targets are important for your company. 

What is a science-based target?

The SBTi exclusively acknowledges authentic decreases in your carbon footprint, excluding carbon offsets or prevented emissions. Only actual reductions without any compensations or adjustments are recognized in a science-based target although companies may have to offset residuals until they can cut back on carbon completely. Preventative measures as part of your reduction strategy are key. Here, we are currently exploring the definition of an actual “target”.

What are SBTi target criteria?

Science-based targets comprehensively assess a company's carbon emissions, utilizing the GHG Protocol's framework that distinguishes various scopes of emissions. SBTs should encompass 95% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and all Scope 3 emissions if they constitute 40% or more of the total. (Even for companies below the 40% threshold, measuring, reporting, and managing Scope 3 emissions is essential, though specific Scope 3 SBTs are not mandatory at this time.) Another note is generally, scope 3 emissions make up approximately 70% of a supply chains’ emissions. 

What are the SBTi’s 5 steps to setting science-based targets?

The SBTi requires businesses to take 5 steps when setting their science-based targets:

  1. Commit - Submit a letter with your business’ intent to start setting science-based targets. This either means a 1.5C commitment which gets companies listed as “committed” in the “Race to Zero” and the following, or a 2C commitment which gets businesses listed with the SBTi and We Mean Business Coalition.
  2. Develop - Start working on your emissions targets in line with SBTi’s requirements. There is a 2 year period that you can work on developing your plan to submit to the SBTi.
  3. Submit - Present your target to the SBTi for validation by scientists and specialists. After your submission, there is approximately a 30 day period for the SBTi to approve it. If you have to resubmit, it’s often because the company didn’t disclose all scope 3 emissions. 
  4. Communicate - Announce your target to stakeholders. In this period you’ll start reducing your emissions and carrying out your plans.
  5. Disclose - Report the company’s emissions and track target progress annually. Public disclosure promotes transparency and empowers stakeholders to trust in your brand. 

Net zero targets

While science-based targets focus on reducing carbon without offsetting, net zero targets go beyond that and ask for removing the carbon emissions which are already in the atmosphere. SBTi’s guidance for net zero states 4 requirements:

  1. Set a short-term science-based target that you can achieve within 5-10 years. 
  2. Set a long-term science based target. 
  3. Permanently remove any remaining carbon in your target year. 
  4. Fund decarbonization projects on top of the first 3 requirements.

Why should my company set science-based targets?

Setting science-based targets is a strategic approach that aligns your company's sustainability efforts with the latest scientific knowledge and global climate goals. Here are several reasons why your company should consider setting science-based targets:

  • Science-based targets are based on the latest climate science, making them credible and globally relevant. Aligning with widely accepted scientific principles enhances your company's credibility and demonstrates a commitment to addressing global challenges.
  • Adhering to science-based targets helps your company identify and mitigate climate-related risks. Proactively addressing environmental risks protects your business from regulatory, market, and physical risks associated with climate change.
  • Companies with science-based targets are viewed more favorably by investors, customers, and other stakeholders, giving you a competitive advantage.
  • As governments worldwide implement stricter environmental regulations, aligning with science-based targets helps your company stay ahead of regulatory requirements. Furthermore, being proactive in compliance reduces the regulatory burden on your business in the long run.
  • Implementing measures to achieve science-based targets often leads to increased energy efficiency and resource conservation, which results in cost savings for your company.
  • Pursuing science-based targets encourages innovation in processes, products, and services to meet sustainability goals. Developing resilience in the face of environmental challenges contributes to long-term business success.
  • Investors are increasingly considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their investment decisions and it is required for companies of a certain size to disclose ESG data.
  • Setting science-based targets fosters a long-term view of sustainability, aligning your company with a trajectory that supports a resilient and sustainable future. By setting science-based targets, your company not only contributes to global efforts to combat climate change but also enhances its own resilience, reputation, and competitiveness in a rapidly changing business landscape.
Related content

For more information about how to report on your emissions, check out our additional resources:

•Article: How Are Carbon Emissions Measured?
•Article: Decarbonization: How to Set Goals and Sustainability Targets
•Article: How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
•Article: Carbon Accounting Methodologies for Measuring Emissions

How Net0 accelerates your journey to achieving science-based targets

Net0 leads the way in empowering businesses to set and achieve ambitious, scientifically aligned carbon reduction goals. Our platform is specifically designed to support adherence to the SBTi, equipping organizations with the necessary tools and expertise to confidently meet their science-based sustainability objectives.

Strategic planning for science-based targets

Transitioning to a low-carbon economy requires a clear, strategic approach. Net0 facilitates this transition with predictive analytics and scenario planning tools that offer insights into the impact of various carbon reduction strategies. This enables businesses to transform their science-based targets from abstract ambitions into concrete, actionable plans.

simulator chart to reduce carbon emissions over time

Seamless integration with SBTi guidelines

Net0’s platform meticulously aligns with the stringent standards of the Science Based Targets initiative, ensuring your carbon reduction strategies are not just ambitious but scientifically grounded and achievable. This alignment provides businesses with the confidence that their efforts contribute meaningfully to global sustainability goals.

Monitoring and reporting made simple

Tracking progress toward SBTi targets becomes straightforward with Net0. Our platform enhances the process of data collection, monitoring, and reporting, ensuring accuracy and transparency in communicating achievements. This streamlined approach supports businesses in demonstrating their commitment and progress toward scientifically validated sustainability efforts.

dashboard of the charts that measure carbon emissions

Driving profitable decarbonization

Adopting SBTi-aligned targets opens doors to new opportunities for growth and innovation. Net0 assists in identifying sustainable business practices that enhance operational efficiency and profitability while reducing environmental impact. This strategic focus ensures that sustainability is not just an environmental consideration but a cornerstone of business success.

mac curve (macc)

Final thoughts

Setting targets with the SBTi helps your business:

  • Combat climate change with proactive and viable strategies
  • View your company’s progress and take action in the short- and long-term
  • Gain a competitive edge in the green economy
  • Earn stakeholders’ trust from consumers to ESG investors 
  • Participate and pioneer profitable decarbonization

Net0 is government-compliant meaning it’s in alignment with all international regulations from voluntary to mandatory reporting. Book a demo with Net0 and experience how entering your emissions data is a necessary and simple step to your profitable decarbonization strategy; the only way to measure, track, reduce, and report on GHG emissions.

Written by:

Kristin Irish

As a content writer for Net0, Kristin harnesses her expertise and enthusiasm for carbon emissions reduction, merging it with her other passion: the B2B SaaS industry. Her global outlook and dedication enrich the sustainability sector with insightful perspectives.
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