Science Based Targets

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The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) recently announced that global temperatures need to be limited to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels, as opposed to the previously calculated 2oC. The report warned that we have 12 years in which to turn things around. This has been a huge global call to action for worldwide decarbonisation to occur, and urgently. The severity of consequences between 1.5 and 2 is stark, as depicted in this infographic courtesy of the World Resources Institute (WRI).


One key action that organisations can take is to set science-based targets (SBTs). These are environmental targets that are set in line with the global targets, making them more robust and meaningful and in line with climate science. Note, the current SBTs have been in line with the 2oC limit, however an update is due in early 2019 which will address the new limit of 1.5oC. This is a global movement, designed to future-proof companies and limit catastrophic climate change as far as possible. At present, over 500 organisations are taken science-based climate action (find the complete list here).


The Science Based Targets Initiative is a collaborative effort involving Carbon Disclosure Project, the WRI, the UN Global Compact, and the WWF.




  • Future-proof your business

o   Acting now is a means of addressing and reducing risks associated with climate change

o   The momentum for sustainability is only on the rise, and SBTs ensure your organisation is resilient

  • Cost effective

o   Setting SBTs is a great way to become more cost effective, especially in the long term. This will unfold as your organisation becomes more efficient in its operations and supply chains

o   Renewable energy is also much more cost effective as the movement away from coal intensifies into the future

  • Opportunity to innovate

o   There is a huge scope to innovate your product or service offerings, or even, for instance, to transform your business model by really catalysing on the movement and transition towards a low carbon economy.

  • Positive for reputation

o   Setting SBTs can increase investment, and attract more business opportunities. An increasing number of companies now place a heavy emphasis on environmental factors, which are accounted for via a variety of processes, such as tendering. SBTs will ensure your business is at the forefront

o   Many employees also place much more value working for a more responsible employer, particularly the younger generations, who are going into the workforce. SBTs will attract more attention and confidence in the company.

  • Improve credibility

o   By demonstrating a commitment towards SBTs, it will improve your organisation’s stance in the market

o   An increasing number of organisations are already divesting from those involved in fossil fuel production or consumption.

  • Regulation

o   There will undoubtedly be an increasing amount of environmental regulation and mandatory reporting requirements that will arise in the future. Already in 2019, the new SECR requirements are to be rolled out. Setting SBTs will ensure that your business is well prepared for these.

  • Resilience

o   Adopting more circular principles within your business means more protection from risk – you can’t manage what you don’t measure



There are four key steps in the process.

1 – Commit

–          Your organisation needs to submit a signed commitment letter to demonstrate that you will be taking action.

2 – Set the target

–          A window of 24 months after Step 1 will be given for developing the target.

3 – Submit target

–          A ‘target submission form’ is to be completed after target has been developed. This will be verified.

4 – Announce

–          Once approved, you are good to go – you can showcase the target and communicate it out.


Note – The current focus of SBTs is on corporates. SBTi does not work with cities, governments, public sector organisations, educational institutions, and NGOs at present.

If you’d like to know more about SBTs or would like to be a part of this initiative, please do get in touch with us.

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  • […] partnership between CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF, it helps business set goals based on the science of climate change. The target is developed in line with the scale of reductions required to keep global warming below […]

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