SBTi response to the Financial Times

2nd Feb 2022

This article outlines the Science Based Target initiative’s response to the article from the Financial Times dated February 2022 titled: Climate targets oversight group under scrutiny over its own governance.

Science-based target setting has evolved from a nascent concept in 2015 into a movement now covering nearly 20% of the global economy. During this period, the SBTi has also evolved from a nascent project, powered by four of the world’s most respected environmental organizations, into the de facto standard embraced by the climate action ecosystem, including 2,000+ companies and hundreds of investors seeking to align their portfolios with global climate goals.

There are two key issues raised in the article, which we respond to here:

Evolution of technical governance

  • Acknowledging the critical role that the SBTi plays in the wider ecosystem, we announced our new strategy in 2021, which includes the evolution of our technical governance and decision-making processes to adhere to best-in-class models used by sustainability standards;
  • To this end, the SBTi has partnered with a consultancy to explore the best model to evolve our technical governance in a way that ensures the independence and rigour in our standard setting and certification framework;
  • As part of this exercise, the consultancy is engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, the SBTi Executive Board and leadership team to map out expectations, and research different technical governance models to help shape the evolution in technical governance for the initiative;

  • We expect to complete this process within the coming months, and we will share more information on the evolution of our technical governance as soon as the process is completed.

Target validation model

  • The SBTi conducts target validations in-house, as this allows us to guarantee consistency and stringency of target validation decisions, which is key to the success of the science-based targets and the credibility of approved companies. It also enables us to learn from each submission and improve our target validation criteria, as part of our annual criteria review process;
  • Our target validation process has a number of checks in place to ensure the integrity of targets and adherence to the current SBTi criteria. Targets are reviewed by a dedicated target analyst and peer-reviewed by a different target analyst, usually hosted by a different partner organization. Recommendations from the lead reviewer and peer reviewer are then discussed and agreed by the SBTi target validation team, with representation from staff hosted by CDP, WRI and WWF;
  • Conducting an in-depth and thorough assessment of corporate targets is a resource-intensive activity. In 2021, the SBTi conducted more than 500 target validations. In 2022, we expect to conduct more than 700 target validations;
  • In order to ensure that we can deliver the target validation service to a high-standard while also continually making improvements to this service, the SBTi charges companies a cost-recovery fee. As non-profit organizations, the fee is kept at a low level by the SBTi partners, minimizing entry barriers to the initiative while allowing us to deliver a quality service. The SBTi accepts waiver submissions from companies based in developing countries;
  • We review and revise our criteria continually to ensure it is in line with the latest climate science. In 2021, this saw us launch the world’s first Net-Zero Standard and validate the first seven net-zero science-based targets. It is our ambition to get all companies aligned with this highest level of ambition;
  • The target validation structure of the SBTi will also be informed by the review of our technical governance model facilitated by the consultancy.

As a climate standard setting initiative, we embrace scrutiny, as it enables us to improve, and ensure our methods and approach remain as robust as possible. If you would like to share any feedback or questions with our team, contact [email protected].