May 3, 2023
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a global organization that encourages and supports companies in setting science-based targets for reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The SBTi was launched in 2015 as a collaboration between CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund.
Science-based targets are GHG emissions reduction targets that are aligned with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. These targets are based on the latest climate science and are considered to be ambitious but achievable.
Setting science-based targets within organizations can unlock several benefits for those organizations, as well as for our planet:
Companies that commit to setting science-based targets through the SBTi are provided with guidance and tools to help them develop and implement their targets. The SBTi also reviews and approves companies' targets to ensure that they are consistent with current climate science.
At the time of writing, the SBTi and its efforts reach roughly 2,600 companies worldwide. As an organization, setting science-based targets is not as difficult as one might expect, as the SBTi offers guidance for companies to set targets that are aligned with a 1.5°C future. The impact of such measures is noticeable immediately, as outlined in the image below. It highlights emissions reductions across companies that have been approved by the SBTi.
For more information and to get your company started on setting its own targets, the SBTi offers a step-by-step process. This enables organizations to reduce their emissions gradually or go even further to reach Net Zero.
The Corporate Net-Zero Standard by the SBTi (also simplified as Net-Zero Standard) provides guidance, criteria, and recommendations to help companies establish Net Zero targets that will be verified by the SBTi. The primary goal of this standard is to offer a consistent and rigorous method for companies to create Net Zero targets that are consistent with scientific climate data.
Net Zero refers to achieving a balance between the amount of GHG emissions produced and the amount of GHG emissions removed from the atmosphere. This means that any remaining emissions are offset by activities that remove an equivalent amount of GHG emissions from the atmosphere. It requires a combination of emissions reductions and removals to achieve, with a focus on transitioning to renewable energy sources and reducing energy consumption.
The figure below outlines one possible Climate Positive path to Net Zero.
The Climate Positive approach involves continued emissions reductions in tandem with carbon offset support. Compensation measures can include offsets from mitigation-type offsets in the preceding period, including renewable energy and/or forest conservation projects. Under such an approach, gross emissions slowly shrink year over year as the emission reduction actions defined by your organization start showing their effect.
Eventually, the last remaining emissions must be neutralized permanently by the target year in order for the company to be allowed to call itself Net Zero as defined by the SBTi. Complete neutralization can be achieved by permanent carbon removal techniques like afforestation or technologies such as Direct Air Capture.
Several thousand companies have pledged to take action and reduce their emissions based on the recommendations of the SBTi. Let’s look at Nestlé as a case study of what science-based targets can look like when implemented in the real world. Under the guidelines of the SBTi, this multinational corporation has set the following targets:
By setting distinctly defined parameters, Nestlé has laid out its path to a Net-Zero future and can establish clear business practices to reach these targets.
Clearly, organizations need time to shift their business operations to align with the SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard. Over the coming years, compensation via carbon credits will therefore be necessary to support your company on its journey to Net Zero.
In a sign of their centrality to the effort to stabilize the planet’s climate, the G7 energy ministers recently met in Japan to outline the principles that will underpin the high-integrity carbon markets necessary to our future.
High-quality carbon credits help offset emissions that are currently unavoidable and, according to the World Economic Forum, should play a role in companies’ climate action plans. Sourcing carbon credits can be difficult, however, as there are a number of market failures that make interacting and transacting within the market challenging.
Carbonmark provides a powerful platform for organizations—including those following a Climate Positive SBTi approach to Net Zero—to connect with project developers directly and source both carbon mitigation and removal-type offsets.
Furthermore, there are a wide variety of carbon credit vintages and categories available from Carbonmark, including Blue Carbon, Forestry, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Industrial Processing. Thus, whether you are looking to support projects restoring mangrove plantations in Myanmar or protecting forests in the Amazon, the options are almost limitless.
By using Carbonmark, companies can demonstrate their commitment to addressing the climate crisis by following the SBTi’s guidelines, undertaking compensation actions via carbon credits, and thereby ensuring a brighter future for us all.
 SBTi (2022) Annual Progress Report 2021. Available at: https://sciencebasedtargets.org/resources/files/SBTiProgressReport2021.pdf
 SBTi (2020) Foundations for Net Zero. Available at: https://sciencebasedtargets.org/resources/legacy/2020/09/foundations-for-net-zero-full-paper.pdf
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