The notion of science-based target setting has been gaining momentum since the inception of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in mid-2015. Science-based target setting is becoming standard business practice evidenced by over 2 500 companies participating in the SBTi. To dive into this topic, and what science-based target setting means for your business, please read on.

What are science-based targets?

Science-based targets are emission reduction targets that detail how quickly and by how much companies aim to reduce their emissions. These targets are aligned with what the latest climate science deems is necessary to realise a climate-safe future and keep global temperature rise within 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, as stipulated by the Paris Agreement. 

Who is the Science Based Targets initiative?

The SBTi is a global partnership between four leading NGOs: CDP, World Resources Institute, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the United Nations Global Compact. The SBTi focuses on corporate-led climate action to mitigate against the effects of climate change through the mechanism of setting ambitious emission reduction targets. The SBTi develops methodologies and thought leadership to enable companies to set science-based targets. The SBTi also acts as a verification body to evaluate whether submitted company targets align with the latest climate science, as set out in SBTi’s set of criteria and best practice.

Why are science-based targets important for business?

Setting science-based targets means that companies have a clear reduction pathway, and associated strategy, that is rooted in climate science, to reduce emissions. This contrasts with setting business as usual emission reduction targets that are not grounded in strategic thought that is not good for business nor the climate. Companies that have set science-based targets have seen benefits from bottom-line savings and increased innovation, to improve investor confidence and reduce risk linked to upcoming local and global climate policies.

What does net-zero mean for my business? 

As well as setting science-based targets in the near term (five to ten years into the future) to drive ambitious short-term action, it is also important to set long-term targets that align with a net-zero future by 2050. Many companies around the world have been publicising that they are committing to set net-zero targets by mid-century. However, a standardised, science-based approach on how companies can set net-zero targets is needed. In 2021, the SBTi launched a net-zero standard, with criteria and guidance on how companies can set net-zero targets that are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

What changes are coming in 2022?

In 2022, as we swiftly approach 2030 where we need to have halved our global emissions, it is imperative that companies align their business strategy with ambitious climate action.

The SBTi has released information on exciting developments for this year.

For more information on what science-based targets and net-zero means for your business, please get in touch with us at on how we can support your corporate journey.