What are science-based targets?
Over 250 global companies have now set science-based targets on climate change, meaning they have aligned their business ambitions with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2°C, as laid out in the Paris Agreement in 2015. As a result, these targets are long-term e.g. to 2050, and aggressive, as high as 50% reductions. These targets are managed by the Science-Based Targets initiative – a partnership between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), WWF, the World Resources Institute and the UN Global Compact - who offer methodologies, tools and support for companies committing to science-based targets.
So why are companies going far beyond regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions and is it something your business should be considering?
Why set science-based targets?
These companies are aware that there is a proven business case for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, for example selecting renewable energy with its declining costs can be a real economic and environmental win, as recently announced by Tesco, who have set science-based targets which will be partially achieved through moving to 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
A global temperature rise above 2°C also increases risk and uncertainty in economic and regulatory terms. Businesses are aware that with increasing national targets, business regulations are likely to increase and acting now not only allows for a slower transition, but also a competitive advantage as noted by Tetra-Pak, who were the first in the food packaging industry to set science-based targets.
These targets also drive innovation as a result of their challenging and long-term nature. This appeals to forward-thinking businesses and supports goals of competitiveness, appealing to stakeholders. Additionally, the CDP since 2016 has asked whether emission reductions targets are science-based targets, as such effecting company scores.
The uptake of science-based targets are impressive, with companies appreciating the benefits they offer meaning they can align their ethical and business goals, so it may be the time to get scientific about carbon!