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Develop and set a near-term science-based target

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What is this action about?

Setting targets is the core element of any climate strategy.

Science-based targets (SBTs) are GHG emissions reduction targets that are consistent with the level of decarbonization that, according to climate science, is required to keep global temperature increase within 1.5º C. Quickly becoming the gold standard for target setting, SBTs follow a top-down approach and work backward from the global carbon budget to determine how much each industry and business needs to reduce to do their part.

The most widely recognized approach to setting science-based targets was developed jointly by CDP, the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute, and the WWF as part of their joint Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The SBTi also developed a Net-Zero Standard for companies, which provides a framework for setting long-term, ambitious, and science-based net zero targets. For more information on long-term commitments, please read “Publicly commit to the 1.5°C ambition”. 

To set a science-based target, companies need to follow a five-step process:

  • Commit: submit a letter establishing your intent to set a science-based target

  • Develop: work on an emissions reduction target in line with the SBTi’s criteria

  • Submit: present your target to the SBTi for a complete validation

  • Communicate: announce your target and inform your stakeholders

  • Disclose: report company-wide emissions and track target progress annually

SBTi is ambitious and rigorous, but it’s also complicated. There is a separate streamlined pathway for small and medium companies (SMEs), which are defined as “a non-subsidiary, independent company with fewer than 500 employees”. This route, which will be the focus of this action module, enables SMEs to bypass some steps such as the initial commitment and regular target validation.

The target options for SMEs are as follows:

  • Near-term:  Absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reduction targets that should be achieved by 2030, from a predefined base year.

  • Long-term (net zero): Absolute scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions reduction targets that should be met by 2050 at the latest, from a predefined base year. Includes a commitment to neutralize any unabated emissions when the long-term science-based target is achieved.

The price for validation services is $1,000 for near-term science-based targets and $1,000 for net-zero targets for SMEs. Larger organizations need to pay $9,500 per target option or $14,500 in a package. Companies headquartered in developing countries may be exempt from fees.

SBTi Frequently Asked Questions for SMEsSBTi Criteria and RecommendationsSBT How-to for setting near-term targets

Develop and set a near-term science-based target

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