The Science-Based Targets Initiative enables companies to set targets for greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction that respect the Paris Agreement through a scientific assessment, realized by experts of climate change.
For nearly 30 years, the United Nations has been bringing together almost every country for global climate summits. This year’s event is the 26th annual summit. It takes place in Glasgow (United Kingdom) nowadays. The objectives are : to secure global net zero by mid-century, to protect communities and to mobilize finance.
The initiative of having Science-Based Targets was launched after COP21 to help the private sector to respect the goals of the Paris Agreement – maintain global warming to +1,5°C above pre-industrial levels. This goal is widely recognized and accepted by the scientific community as necessary to fight climate change.
As the GHG emissions, or CO2 emissions (given the large part of CO2 in GHG), are at the origin of this temperature rise, limiting global warming will necessarily involve a reduction of the world’s GHG emissions. A rise above the Paris Agreement’s thresholds can lead to irreversible climate changes and unprecedented consequences on populations worldwide. For a few years now, companies have taken this into account and they are currently committing to reduce their carbon emissions. But how to ensure that these reductions will be sufficient to stop the phenomenon?
Needless to say, committing to reduce its own carbon emissions is a good first step. But the reality is that companies have almost no means to measure how their targets will lead them to respect the Paris Agreement or not. These assessments require very complex calculations. Only few climate experts are able to assess if the targets set by companies are enough to limit global warming.
The role of the Science-Based Targets Initiative
The SBTi is therefore a partnership between the Carbon Disclosure Project, the United Nations, the World Resources Institute and the WWF. These organizations provide some independent experts whose mission is to check if the targets that the companies are committing to are consistent with a +1.5°C path, as in the Paris Agreement. If the company’s targets are validated by the scientific committee, they are called “science-based targets”. It means that they are in line with the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The SBTi has several other missions: a pedagogical role to play, showing companies how much effort is needed to reduce their GHG emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The committee also promotes best practices to reduce emissions and achieve net-zero targets and provide technical assistance and expert resources to companies.
SBTi in the industry and supply chain
The commitment of businesses to science-based targets has already begun and action is gaining pace. Nearly 1000 companies worldwide have already set targets validated by the SBTi and 1000 more are committed to do so in the coming two years.
The SBTi is now a movement covering nearly 20% of the global economy. A lot of top-class companies are actually already committed, in every economic sector. We can name some of them: Henkel, Ikea, L’Oréal, LVMH, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Shiseido, Unilever. They are examples for the industry.
This is even more important that those players are facing massive transformations of their supply chains. Global e-commerce grew by 28% in 2020, representing an excellent opportunity to set more sustainable models.
About selecting SBTi-committed suppliers
Selecting SBTi-committed suppliers enables to create an ecosystem where the efforts of every stakeholder help everyone to reach its targets. Building an ecosystem, with a lot of business partners involved is a first-class matter, given the importance of the stakeholders in these types of projects. The SBTi offers a frame for companies to work on the same path on the climate change topic. In this context, the supply chain could become an accelerator of transition.
We all know that working on Scopes 1 and 21 is not sufficient in the fight against climate change, considering Scope 32 is paramount. It is only by acting together among the entire value chain that we will make a difference to build a more sustainable industry. Thanks to the SBTi approach, partnerships on impactful actions between customers and suppliers and authorities to collectively deliver a higher impact are possible.
The supply chain sector represents approximately 10% to 11% of global GHG emissions. In such a key sector, using a science-based methodology to ensure that the reduction targets respect the Paris Agreement is crucial. To commit to the SBTi is a proof of the ambition of a company in the fight against climate change. It guarantees the seriousness of the roadmap of GHG emissions reduction.
1 The GHG emissions can be divided into three Scopes. The direct emissions of the company are in Scope 1 (emissions related to the combustion of fossil fuels in the company’s facilities) and in Scope 2 (emissions related to electricity consumption of the company).
2 The Scope 3 gathers all the other emissions related to the company’s activities: the transportation of goods, the subcontractors’ emissions, the employee commuting, etc.