A Guide to Science Based Targets

A Guide to Science Based Targets

In today’s rapidly changing world, sustainability has become a fundamental aspect of successful business strategies.

As the impacts of climate change become more apparent, consumers, investors, and stakeholders are increasingly demanding greater responsibility from companies.

In response, many businesses are turning to Science Based Targets, also known as SBTs, as a powerful tool to align their efforts with global sustainability goals.

If you’re new to the term Science Based Targets, this helpful Ecometrica guide will provide you with the basics of what Science Based Targets are and why they are essential for businesses now and in the future.

What are Science Based Targets?

Science Based Targets or SBTs are ambitious emissions reduction targets aligned with the latest climate science. They aim to limit global warming to below 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees celsius.

What is the objective of Science Based Targets?

Science Based Targets aim to limit global warming, striving to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme weather and negative impacts on human health.

Who sets Science Based Targets?

Established in 2015, the Science Based Targets Initiative or SBTi, developed a set of Science Based Targets to prompt businesses to set emission reduction goals based on climate science.

The SBTi is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

What types of Science Based Targets are there?

Near-term Science Based Targets

Near-term Science Based Targets are goals that companies must achieve within a 5 to 10-year timeframe.

Under this initiative, scopes 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions must not result in a temperature rise exceeding 1.5 degrees celsius, while scope 3 emissions should remain well below 2 degrees celsius.

Reporting for scopes 1 and 2 must encompass at least 95% of the total emissions inventory in these scopes. Additionally, if a company’s scope 3 indirect emissions contribute to more than 40% of their total greenhouse gas emissions, a minimum of 67% coverage is required.

These targets are aligned with the science-based climate goals set as part of the Paris Agreement, also known as COP21, and recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

You can find out more information about the specified temperature rises and how businesses can address these within our global warming report.

Long-term Science Based Targets

Long-term Science Based Targets are objectives that companies must meet by no later than 2050.

These targets are more stringent, demanding that scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions must not exceed a 1.5 degrees celsius temperature rise.

The coverage boundaries are also more ambitious, stating that 95% of your global greenhouse gas emissions inventory for scopes 1 and 2 are required to be reported, and 90% for scope 3, regardless of how much scope 3 emissions constitute a company’s overall emissions. These long-term targets aim to align businesses with the global objective of limiting climate change and its impacts.

Why should companies set Science Based Targets?

Under the Corporate Net-Zero Standard introduced by the SBTi in October 2021, companies with a workforce of 500 employees or above must establish Science Based Targets that align with the global carbon budgets by the year 2050.

In order to attain corporate net-zero status, these companies must initially devise a Science Based Near-term Target. Meeting the corporate net-zero objective requires the establishment of Near-term Targets at the very least. Moreover, companies that set Long-term Targets will also qualify for corporate net-zero status.

In addition to larger companies of 500 employees and above, smaller companies with fewer employees are also encouraged to introduce Near-term and Long Term Science Based Targets.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), the SBTi offers a simpler and quicker way to adopt Science Based Targets. Instead of going through the usual lengthy process, SMEs can immediately choose from a set of predefined target options available in the SME Science Based Target setting form. This means they don’t have to commit to a full Science Based Target right away or go through the standard validation process usually undertaken by larger businesses. This streamlined approach is designed to make it easier for smaller businesses to take meaningful steps towards sustainability and reduce their environmental impact.

Introducing Science Based Targets within small businesses has numerous advantages, including enhanced credibility, cost savings, and access to opportunities and funding. By integrating Science Based Targets into their core strategies, small businesses as well as large organisations, can position themselves for long-term success while contributing to a more sustainable future.

Why choose Ecometrica to implement Science Based Targets within your business?

Ecometrica takes pride in our award-winning software-as-a-service platform, designed to gather, compute, and present sustainability data seamlessly.

The Ecometrica system boasts fully transparent calculations, catering to enterprise needs, and is audit-ready. With meticulous data quality tracking and assurance, we offer everything businesses require for effortless, transparent, and precise sustainability reporting, all backed by built-in expertise.

Ecometrica provides invaluable support to companies striving to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. We assist you in completing a transparent inventory that serves as a solid foundation for establishing ambitious reduction targets.

Our expertise encompasses comprehensive scope 3 reporting capabilities, along with any necessary supporting calculations.

With our user-friendly platform, tracking progress towards your goals becomes seamless, featuring interactive and customisable data visualisations for both Near-term and Long-term Science Based Targets.

Get started with implementing Science Based Targets within your businesses long term strategy, and reap the benefits of the expert advice and software solutions that Ecometrica provides and become one of the thousands of satisfied customers from around the globe. Contact a member of our team or request a demo today.

For more information about Science Based Targets and how setting targets can best address the current climate crisis, download the Ecometrica target setting paper.

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Date Published: April 25, 2023



This guide to Science Based Targets covers what they are and why businesses need to implement them in order to align with global sustainability goals.


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