The Science Based Targets initiative announced on Wednesday that it was rolling out new updates to its target validation criteria to enable companies to set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in line with the latest science enshrined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) bills itself as mobilizing “companies to set science-based targets and boost their competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy.” A collaboration between CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) — as well as being one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments — SBTi provides companies with a way to set greenhouse gas reduction targets that are scored against the current science.
SBTi’s new update will therefore bring its target validation criteria in line with the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published by the IPCC in October 2018which warned that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” SBTi will publish new technical resources and its updated set of target validation criteria for companies in April and will also release new resources set to enable companies to set targets with a well-below 2°C pathway which, under the SBTi’s new criteria, will become the new minimum level of ambition accepted by the initiative.
“Last October’s IPCC report was a wake-up call for the global economy,” said Alexander Farsan, Global Lead for science-based targets at WWF, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners, speaking to CleanTechnica via email. “It showed there is an urgent need to step up ambition in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and avoid devastating global warming. In response, the Science Based Targets initiative is providing companies with the tools they need to respond to the latest science, and set emissions reduction goals in line with a 1.5C world. We urge companies around the world to rise to the challenge.”
Specifically, according to the SBTi’s announcement, from October 2019 onwards, the newly updated target validation criteria will include:
- New targets submitted for validation will only be accepted if they are consistent with limiting warming to well-below 2°C or 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Targets consistent with limiting warming to 2°C will no longer be approved. The definition of “well-below 2°C” will be informed by the IPCC Special Report and underlying scenarios.
- The level of ambition of all existing and new targets will be published on the SBTi website, and classified under one of three categories: 1.5°C, well-below 2°C and 2°C.
- To ensure targets remain aligned with the most recent climate science, companies will be required to review, and if necessary revalidate, their targets every five years from the date of the original target approval. This will become mandatory in 2025.
The SBTi is currently in consultation with a Scientific Advisory Group consisting of leading climate scientists from around the globe to implement the new emissions scenarios presented by the IPCC to mode emissions reduction pathways that can be applied by companies to align their corporate strategies with the latest climate science. As of writing, the SBTi has approved the targets of over 160 companies and over 350 companies have committed to setting science-based targets within a two-year timeframe.
“Companies with approved targets will be notified of their current target ambition level, which will be disclosed on the SBTi website when the new criteria come into force in the Autumn,” explained Farsan. “The SBTi strongly encourages companies to update their targets in line with the best available science using the new criteria and the next generation of science-based target setting resources, planned for release in April 2019.
“To ensure targets remain aligned with the most recent climate science, companies will be required to review, and if necessary revalidate, their targets every five years from the date of the original target approval. This will become mandatory in 2025, however we encourage companies to review their targets as soon as possible.”