The Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector plays a significant role in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for nearly a quarter of the world's emissions. Not only is this sector contributing towards climate change, but it also faces vulnerability to climate change impacts.

There is, however, a silver lining within this sector. The AFOLU sector has the unique potential to contribute toward meaningfully removing emissions from the atmosphere, aiding in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Given this dual impact on global climate dynamics, it becomes imperative for companies operating within this sector to measure their net effect. Yet, quantifying these emissions and the subsequent removals has posed a challenge for companies worldwide.

To address this gap, the GHG Protocol developed a guidance document, the Land Sector and Removals Guidance, which provides details on how companies can measure these emissions. Recently, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) introduced the Forest Land and Agriculture (FLAG) guidance in alignment with the Land Sector and Removals Guidance.

So, what is FLAG?

  • Purpose: the FLAG guidance directs companies in setting science-based targets (SBTs) for land-related emissions, crucial for aligning with the 1.5°C limit outlined in the Paris Agreement.
  • Who's affected: companies falling within land-intensive sectors, such as forest and paper products, agricultural food production, animal source food production, food and beverage processing, food and staples retailing, and tobacco, or companies with FLAG emissions comprising more than 20% of their total GHG emissions, are required to set FLAG SBTs.
  • Components: a FLAG GHG inventory comprises FLAG emissions and removals. Emissions include land-use change emissions, such as deforestation and peatland drainage; land management CO2 emissions, such as soil tillage; and land management non-CO2 emissions, such as fertiliser use. FLAG removals include land management removals, such as agroforestry.

Once companies have measured these emissions and removals, and if they fall under one of the above-mentioned sectors or if their FLAG emissions are more than 20% of their total GHG emissions, then FLAG SBTs can be set.

What does FLAG SBT compliance involve? 

  • Set near-term FLAG science-based targets: establishing 5-10 year emission reduction goals aligned with the 1.5°C limit.
  • Account for removals in near-term FLAG science-based targets: incorporating activities that remove emissions, such as improved forest management practices.
  • Set long-term FLAG science-based targets: committing to reducing at least 72% of emissions by 2050.
  • Zero deforestation: implementing zero deforestation targets by 2025.
  • Set science-based targets for fossil emissions: companies with land-based emissions need to set FLAG and non-FLAG science-based targets, as every company produces fossil fuel emissions.

FLAG is a pivotal tool for companies in the AFOLU sector and beyond. The FLAG guidance provides companies with a roadmap to set science-based reduction targets, aligned with the Paris Agreement, on their land-related emissions. Carbon Calculated has the capability to assist companies in measuring FLAG emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3, while also helping establish both near-term and long-term FLAG SBTs.


Written by: Jayne Rimell