Understanding Science-Based Targets

The pressures for businesses to build their net-zero plans are mounting but how to you set meaningful and measurable targets? Nathan Dad, Head of I&C Supply Sales, explains the importance of setting science-based targets as the first step to deliver the carbon reduction goals for your business.

During COP26’s Finance Day, UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, outlined a requirement for UK corporations and financial institutions to declare their green plans by 2023. Whilst it’s been encouraging to see a number of leading companies announce their net-zero plans over the last few weeks, the results of a poll we ran on our social media platforms suggests 40% of businesses do not have a plan in place to transition to net-zero. With this in mind, I’d like to share some thoughts on setting science-based targets for corporates to start the journey to net-zero carbon emissions.

Science based targets align with what the current climate science shows is essential to achieve the 1.5°C ambition of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) drives ambitious climate action, showing companies how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

The current SBTi recommendation puts businesses on track to cut emissions in half between 2020-2030 and more than 2,000 companies have already committed to the SBTi. These commitments and goals are shown to be very effective with a study showing that between 2015 and 2020, companies with validated targets cut emissions by 25% compared with an increase of 3.4% in global energy and industrial emissions and 1.5°C aligned targets accounted for 66% of all submissions to the SBTi in 2021.

Setting science-based targets have become a strong benchmark to ensure that corporations are on the right track to achieving net-zero. They can safeguard businesses against UK regulatory changes in the fight against climate change and allow for a smooth transition between policy changes.

We encourage our customers to look within their organisation at Scope 1 & 2 emissions, for example gas and electricity supply by tonnes of GHGs. The most effective ways to deliver net-zero for scope 1 and 2 emissions is to source 100% renewable electricity/gas, implement energy efficiency measures and explore the option of EV fleets for your organisation, extending efforts to cover Scope 3.

Scope 3 covers emissions that businesses are indirectly responsible for, including the supply chain (e.g., employee commuting, investments, purchased goods and services).Scope 3 emissions are often the biggest proportion of GHG emitters for businesses and the hardest one to manage. Based on targets that were submitted for validation to the SBTi in 2017, 64% of those that failed were due to issues with their additional Scope 3 targets, according to Carbon Trust.

Setting Scope 1, 2 and 3 goals as part of your businesses’ green plan will enable you to set meaningful targets with a timely and realistic delivery plan. This will include upfront costing, actioning projects, ongoing verification and delivering against pre-agreed timeframes, but it will help you to get a strong start for your business on the journey to net-zero.

Having science-based targets instills confidence in your net-zero mission, not only from a public perspective, but from stakeholders within your company providing a united, clear vision for the future.

If you would like to learn more about SmartestEnergy’s 100% renewable electricity, download our certified 100% Renewable Electricity Product Overview or get in touch if you’d like to discuss your net-zero plan with one of our I&C Business Development Managers.