How can Science-Based Targets help decarbonise your organisation?
It takes more than just a commitment to decarbonise to reduce your organisation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It takes a plan. But how can you know how much you need to cut those emissions? Science-Based Targets (SBTs) are already helping thousands of organisations in virtually all business sectors around the world to do exactly that.
What are Science-Based Targets?
The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a global organisation which defines and promotes best practice in reducing emissions. It’s developed a series of SBTs for decarbonisation. They’re called ‘science based’ because they follow the same climate science as the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to within 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.
SBTs help you understand by how much and how rapidly you need to reduce your GHG emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change. They give you a clear path to cut those emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Why should my organisation set SBTs?
SBTs are clear and simple targets, backed by a robust body of evidence. They lead to clear pathways for organisations across different sectors to reduce their emissions, aligned with global climate objectives.
They’re objective and independently verified, giving them powerful appeal to many different stakeholder groups. They show your investors, customers, colleagues and prospective future staff that your organisation is taking its responsibilities seriously and they demonstrate commitment to sustainability.
Most importantly, using SBTs and the pathways that they lead to can help you to measure and monitor your organisation’s progress towards a net-zero future. Because of that, they can help future-proof your organisation. In fact, they’re already helping to give thousands of organisations around the world a competitive edge.
How can my organisation make SBTs?
Companies in all sectors (apart from fossil fuels) can set their own SBTs. There’s sector-based guidance available online, so you can see how other organisations in your field have defined the SBTs they’re aiming for.
At the heart of all of these initiatives is a five step process:
1. Commit: Declare your organisation’s determination to adopt SBTs.
2. Develop: Use science-based criteria to set your specific target.
3. Submit: Complete the relevant SBTi forms for your organisation and target type.
4. Communicate: Tell the world the target you’re committed to.
5. Disclose: Share the progress you’re making towards your SBT.
Making the business case for SBTs
In the Carbon Removals Report we produced in partnership with The Energyst we found board-level commitment to be one of the most significant factors behind progress towards net zero for many organisations.
Putting decarbonisation at the heart of your organisation may require significant support from top management. You may find it useful to have an SBT champion at board level to keep the project on track. And you’ll need buy-in from your CEO, CFO and COO in order to make this a priority. It’s probably also going to take a dedicated team from lower down the organisation to deliver the project, which means that resources will have to be allocated to it.
All this means that you’ll need to sell SBTs in at the highest level. Which means you’re going to need to develop a clear business case before you involve those high-level stakeholders.
4,000 organisations around the world have already done this successfully. So you’re not alone.
Although SBTs are aligned to climate science and climate change goals, they can help the bottom line too. One of the key messages to share with your leadership team is that as well as helping to reduce your carbon footprint, they can also help you to cut costs. This is because SBTs lead to initiatives that deliver greater energy efficiency, resource optimisation, and improved operational efficiency.
Many people choose to begin by devising targets to reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions. These are easier to calculate and report than Scope 3. Once you’ve got all the necessary data from your value chain, you can move on to Scope 3 emissions.
There are also a number of case studies available that can help you make the business case for your organisation.
It’s important to remember that the process doesn’t have to happen overnight. Even after you’ve committed to SBTs, your organisation has two years in which to develop your target and submit it for validation. But the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have the targets you need to reach net zero.