SBTi FLAG Project: New Implementation Timelines Announced

30th Jun 2023

More than a fifth (22%) of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from agriculture, forestry and other land use. While thousands of companies report their GHG emissions to investors and stakeholders, few account for the emissions from deforestation and land use change, or include them in reduction targets.

To combat this issue, in September 2022 the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) launched the world’s first standard method for businesses in land-intensive sectors such as food, agriculture and forestry, to set science-based targets that include land-related emissions and removals - the Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) Science Based Target Setting Guidance.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) has also been working on the development of its Land Sector and Removals Guidance to provide companies with the tools to account for and report GHG emissions and removals from land management, land use change and related activities.

The SBTi and GHG Protocol have been collaborating on these activities to ensure alignment between corporate accounting and target-setting for land-based emissions and removals. The GHG Protocol has recently announced that it will be releasing its guidance in mid-2024. As a result, the SBTi is announcing timeline updates that companies with science-based targets and FLAG-related emissions must take into account:

  • Companies with validated science-based targets that are required to submit a FLAG target (page 15 of the SBTi FLAG Guidance for guidance), must do so within six months of the release of the final GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals Guidance.
  • Companies setting science-based targets for the first time, or updating their existing target, must set a FLAG target upon (re)submission - using the draft GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals Guidance. Note that this also includes companies submitting net-zero targets. Companies who have completed the target submission form and booked their validation slot prior to April 30, 2023 are not affected.
FLAG Updated Timelines June2023 V2

Since conversion of natural forests makes up the majority (80%) of land use change emissions, businesses that are required to set a FLAG target and decide to set it after the release of the final version of the GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals Guidance, must still commit to no-deforestation upon submission, with a target date no later than December 31, 2025. This requirement will remain and companies are encouraged to continue to prioritize stopping deforestation and conversion in their supply chains.

The impacts of climate change are increasingly devastating, and the FLAG sector is one of the most affected – but it is also a significant source of emissions. Companies with land-intensive activities are therefore key to helping preserve not only the climate, but also the very land on which their business depends.

Commit now and ensure your company is helping to keep 1.5°C and net-zero within reach.