What are Science-Based Targets?

Science-based targets (SBT) are targets that help companies define their journey to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth.

Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

How do I set Science-Based Targets?

To claim that your emission’s reduction targets are SBT, they need to meet all the following criteria:

  1. Targets need to cover at least Scope 1 (direct emissions from a company’s activities) and 2 (emissions resulting from the use of electricity, heat, or steam).
  2. Targets must cover more than 95% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
  3. Targets must cover all relevant GHG emissions.
  4. Targets must include direct CO2 emissions from the combustion of biofuels and/or biomass feedstocks, as well as sequestered carbon associated with such types of bioenergy feedstock.
  5. Targets are recommended to be submitted by the parent organisation only and not at a subsidiary level.
  6. Targets must be achieved within 5 and 15 years.
  7. Targets that have been already achieved cannot be included.
  8. Targets must be consistent with the level of decarbonization required by the Paris Climate Agreement.  
  9. Targets must lead to absolute emission reductions in line with the climate scenarios for achieving the Paris Climate Agreement.
  10. Targets must be created using the latest version of methods and tools approved by the initiative.
  11. Targets can be set to address only one or multiple scope emissions.
  12. Targets can not include offsetting as reductions.
  13. Targets must not include avoided emissions.
  14. Targets should indicate the approach in which they have been calculated (based on location or market).
  15. Planning to actively source renewable electricity is an acceptable alternative to Scope 2 emission’s reduction targets.
  16. Companies must include a Scope 3 emissions screening.
  17. Targets for Scope 3 emissions are required if they represent 40% or more of the total emissions.
  18. Companies must set one or more targets that collectively cover at least 67% of total scope 3 emissions.
  19. Scope 3 targets must fulfill at least one of the following criteria to be considered ambitious.
  • Targets have to be consistent with the level of decarbonization required by the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Targets represent at least 7% annual reduction of emissions per unit value added.
  • The intensity reductions have to be aligned with the relevant sector reduction pathway within the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach (SDA).

19.1. Targets to drive the adoption of SBT by suppliers and/or customers need to meet the following criteria:

  • Targets have to be set around relevant and credible upstream or downstream categories.
  • Targets must specify which percentage of emissions from relevant upstream and downstream categories are covered by the engagement target.
  • Targets must be fulfilled within a maximum of 5 years.
  • The company’s suppliers/customers will have SBT in line with SBTi resources.

19.2. Companies that sell, transmit, or distribute any fossil fuel products will set emission reduction Scope 3 targets for the “Use of sold products”.

20. Targets must follow the relevant sector-specific methods and guidance.

21The company shall publicly report its company-wide GHG emissions inventory and progress against published SBT annually.

22. Targets must be reviewed, and if necessary, recalculated and revalidated, at a minimum of every 5 years. 

23. Targets must be announced publicly on the SBTi website within 6 months once they have been approved.

Why should your company set SBT?

Setting an SBT is proof of your commitment to the environment and will demonstrate your engagement with sustainability matters. There are multiple reasons why a company should set SBT. 

Firstly, it will help secure future investments. Investors are increasingly searching for climate aware businesses who are aware of their obligations and challenges. New schemes, such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure, are forcing the world’s largest and most influential investors to publish and mitigate their exposure to Climate Risk. If you cannot explain your Carbon Footprint you are likely to be seen as a risky investment. Larry Fink, CEO at Blackstone, the world’s largest investment group, has already launched “interventions” at board level. This includes over 50 global companies who are seen as being negligent about climate change planning, and another 119 companies have been placed on a grey list.

Secondly, a good product is no longer enough to win a consumer’s favour. Buyers want more than just quality, often looking for products and brands that align with their personal values. It seems obvious: why support a brand financially if they don’t agree with their social and environmental values? In the face of climate change, those of us who care enough are ready to consider the consequences of our shopping habits. As younger Generation X and Millennials move into decision making roles, it will be necessary to meet their priorities and match their expectations.

In the same way, young people looking for companies to apply to will routinely investigate their position on sustainability first before they even consider applying. Losing the best talent to your nearest competitors for lack of a considered sustainability policy is a double hit.

Furthermore, it will allow you to reduce operational costs. As you explore ways to reduce greenhouse emissions, you will find ways to minimise and eliminate unnecessary consumption and the processes that cost you time and money. Being environmentally savvy doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice efficiency.

Additionally, it is generally accepted that adopting more sustainable business practices will make your business more stable, more resilient to change and more appealing to insurers, shareholders and potential partners. Like many aspects of business, sustainability thrives on knowledge and ignorance is simply not bliss in this area. We will inform you, arm you and prepare you for whatever changes are coming in regulation, enforcement and the commercial market.

And lastly, it will ensure you are ready to grasp new business opportunities. Climate change is a threat to the “business as usual” model but companies that adapt now will be able to take advantage of major opportunities which will appear as the world changes. At the very least you are more likely to survive than competitors who ignore the subject until it is too late.

How can I join the SBTi?

To join the SBTi, follow these steps:

  1. Submit a letter establishing your intent to set SBT.
  2. Develop SBT in line with the SBTi’s criteria.
  3. Submit your target to the SBTi for official validation.
  4. Announce your SBT and inform your stakeholders.
  5. Report company-wide emissions and progress against targets on an annual basis.

It is important to identify and engage with key stakeholders across the organisation so that the implementation of SBT will align with business strategy and be factored into future planning. 

At Enistic we know how challenging it can be to set net-zero emissions targets that meet SBTi’s criteria. We work together with companies to develop SBT and ensure that they are validated. Moreover, we offer companies our professional cloud-based software (PLATO) that allows them to monitor their carbon emissions and compare them against their SBT. PLATO facilitates the measurement, reporting, and management of an organisation’s emissions. Its sustainability data warehouse consolidates, validates, and enriches relevant data for dynamic analysis and informed decision-making. Additionally, it offers our clients a competitive and commercial advantage when it comes to corporate & reputational image.



Book a free consultation

Contact one of our lead assessors today and book a free consultation to see how Enistic can help you set SBT. We will make the processing time and cost-effective. ensuring you move forward, informed, empowered, and confident that you have control.