Driving efficiencies in the SBTi target validation process

20th Dec 2023

Target Validation Manager, Phoebe Holmes, provides a walkthrough of the Criteria Assessment Indicators and the updated Target Submission Form.

At COP28 this year, the SBTi marked more than 4,000 businesses with validated science-based targets. This figure has doubled annually: from 2,000 last year and 1,000 the year before. To match the growing demand for credible corporate climate action, the SBTi has released a set of new and improved resources to further increase efficiency and transparency.

The science-based target validation documents being released and updated are:

The SBTi’s goal is to drive continuous improvements across its target validation process for companies and financial institutions. Despite the increased demand, the wait time for target validation has roughly halved in 2023 compared with 2022. The SBTi is releasing these new and improved materials to help build efficiencies into the process—to maintain and increase the robustness of the validations, reduce the time needed from businesses after submitting and ensure validation results are received as quickly as possible.

Read on for more details on each of the documents:

Procedure for Validation of SBTi Targets

The first new resource is the combination of two legacy documents: the Target Validation Protocol for Near-Term Targets and key elements of the Corporate Manual. This resource does not contain new materials or information, but consolidates practical target setting information and explains how the SBTi implements criteria, sector-specific guidance and greenhouse gas accounting practices.

The Procedure for Validation of SBTi Targets gives companies more accessible information to guide them through each step of the process and inform them how the SBTi’s target validation team implements criteria. This increased transparency will enable businesses to better understand the validation process and how to achieve alignment with the latest climate science.

N.B. Other elements of the Corporate Manual will be included in the next updates of the SBTi’s Near-Term Criteria and Net-Zero Standard. The Procedure for Validation of SBTi Targets is a reference document that is available for immediate use and will be fully effective six months after the release, from June 20, 2024.

SBTi Criteria Assessment Indicators

Currently, the SBTi target validation team spends a considerable amount of time requesting more information and data from companies due to lack of granularity in the initial submission.

To mitigate this, the SBTi has developed the Criteria Assessment Indicators. This resource expands on the legacy ‘Table 1. Criteria Assessment Table’ in the Target Validation Protocol and provides a comprehensive collection of near-term, net-zero, FLAG and other sector-specific criteria that our target analysts use to assess submissions. The document is designed to increase transparency of the target assessment process and clearly define the minimum documentation required to prove alignment with all relevant criteria.

The Criteria Assessment Indicators provide stakeholders with greater insight into how the target validation team assesses science-based targets for conformity with SBTi criteria. This resource will help to build new efficiencies into the target-setting process as organizations will understand exactly what is needed, enabling them to more clearly demonstrate alignment with the SBTi’s criteria and reducing the need for our analysts to request more details from companies.

N.B. The Criteria Assessment Indicators are not accompanied by a change in the criteria. They reflect existing practices and are available for use, effective immediately.

Corporate Target Submission Form

The Corporate Target Submission Form now requires businesses to provide more information, mostly related to the greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory of the submitting business. Using the submission form alongside the Criteria Assessment Indicators will provide businesses with a clear understanding of what information is needed and why it is necessary.

The additional information required includes, but is not limited to:

  • Activity-level emission data for each scope and category
  • Sources of the information and data
  • Type of data and assumptions made during the data collection process

The previous version of the submission form asked for limited amounts of information that businesses typically had to further clarify or expand upon during the target validation process query rounds. The new submission form will therefore help to reduce the number of queries sent in the validation process.

The new submission form will also ask a series of qualitative questions focused on how a company’s GHG inventory is aligned with the GHG Protocol, the required emissions accounting standard for companies to use when setting science-based targets.

A more thoroughly presented GHG inventory will make the target validation process more efficient and reduce the time it takes for analysts to validate alignment with a 1.5°C temperature target. While the updated Corporate Target Submission Form is expected to enable a more efficient and transparent validation process, we recognize that it might not be perfect. That’s why we’ve developed a feedback form to use for everything from functional issues to suggestions for improvement.

N.B. The new Corporate Target Submission Form is available for immediate use and will be required for all target submissions from February 1, 2024.

The new and updated target validation resources will drive efficiencies in the target setting process and bring further transparency to the SBTi’s processes. It will enable the private sector to rapidly scale up their decarbonization efforts at a time when credible corporate climate action is more necessary than ever before. It’s time for businesses from every industry and every region to step up and align their emission reductions with the latest climate science.

Be sure to follow the SBTi on LinkedIn and X (formerly known as Twitter) and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date with the latest resources available to companies setting science-based targets.