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Developing a target
Most companies follow this five-step process to set science-based targets:
1. Commit: Submit a letter establishing your intent to set a science-based target
2. Develop: Work on an emissions reduction target in line with the SBTi’s criteria
3. Submit: Present your target to the SBTi for a complete validation
4. Communicate: Announce your target and inform your stakeholders
5. Disclose: Report company-wide emissions and track target progress annually
See our detailed guidance for each step.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can follow a stream-lined process. View the streamlined pathway for SMEs.
You can view definitions of each sector and their activities in our Sector Classification Descriptions document.
Companies that are submitting targets for the first time are encouraged to use the most recent year for which data is available as the base year. If a company has more detailed data for a previous year, this is acceptable for the validation purposes as long as most recent year data is also submitted.
According to our SBTi Criteria:
Targets must cover a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years from the date the target is submitted to the SBTi for validation. The choice of base year must be no earlier than 2015.
For targets submitted for an official validation in the first half of 2023, the valid target years are 2027-2032 inclusive. For targets submitted in the second half of 2023, the valid target years are between 2028 and 2033 inclusive.
For targets submitted for validation in 2023, the most recent inventory data submitted must be for 2021 at the earliest.
Yes. Companies and financial institutions may set science-based targets using calendar or fiscal years.
The SBTi requires companies to provide 100% of their GHG emissions for validation. Companies are allowed to exclude 5% of emissions. The SBTi requires that 100% of scope 1 and 2 emissions be covered under a target. The SBTi requires that 67% of the mandatory scope 3 emissions (see GHGP Corporate Value Chain Scope 3 Standard page 35) are covered under target(s). Companies are not allowed to exclude certain branches, geographies, businesses streams, etc. for validation of a science-based target.
No. However, companies that committed to the SBTi on or after July 15, 2022 must use Version 5 of our criteria, which requires alignment with a 1.5°C-pathway for most companies.
The SBTi has a streamlined route for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), defined as a non-subsidiary, independent company which employs fewer than 500 employees and is not a Financial Institution (FI) or Oil & Gas (O&G) company.
This pathway enables SMEs to bypass the initial stages of committing to set a science-based target and the standard target validation process. SMEs can immediately set a science-based target for their scope 1 and 2 emissions by choosing from one of several predefined target options. Unlike larger companies, the SBTi does not require SMEs to set targets for their scope 3 emissions; however, SMEs must commit to measure and reduce their scope 3 emissions.
The SBTi introduced this expedited option for SMEs because smaller companies often lack the resources and capabilities needed to set scope 3 targets and monitor progress against them.
The SBTi’s speedy and simplified approach for SMEs balances the need for them to take account of emissions across their value chains without imposing too great a burden on them.
Like larger companies using our standard target validation route, SMEs are required to complete a recent, comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions inventory following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard and Scope 2 Guidance. They are required to publicly report their company-wide scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions inventory and progress against published targets on an annual basis.
The SBTi also has a streamlined route net-zero target setting for SMEs, which does include commitments on scope 3 target setting and reduction.
Targets submitted through the dedicated route for SMEs will be approved and posted to the SBTi website pending due diligence review and payment. Companies will be sent a communications welcome pack and will be able to use the SBTi logo on their website and in company communications.
If you still have an outstanding question reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) requires companies that meet either of the following two criteria to set a FLAG science-based target:
i) Companies with land intensive activities in their value chain from the following FLAG-designated sectors are required to set FLAG targets:
• Forest and Paper Products – Forestry, Timber, Pulp and Paper
• Food Production – Agricultural Production
• Food Production – Animal Source
• Food and Beverage Processing
• Food and Staples Retailing
ii) Companies in any other SBTi-designated sector that have FLAG-related emissions that total more than 20% of overall emissions across scopes 1, 2 and 3.
If your company meets the criteria above, FLAG targets will be required and should be submitted along with other targets through the SBTi Target Validation Booking System using Version 5.2 of the Near Term Target Submission Form + FLAG Annex. Please note that FLAG Targets can not be submitted individually and companies who already have a validated target will need to submit a Near Term Update + FLAG target.
Refer to our FLAG Getting Started Guide, FLAG FAQs, and FLAG Sector Guidance for additional information.
Should you have a question unanswered by these resources, please contact FLAG@sciencebasedtargets.org
December 31, 2023 - For companies with a current target approved on or before December 31, 2019
December 31 2024 - For companies with a current target approved on or after January 1, 2020
Please refer to our FLAG Getting Started Guide for additional help in determining what to submit with your FLAG target.
The SBTi is currently undergoing a process to track company progress against targets, and released initial results in our 2020 Progress Report. In the coming year, the SBTi will issue more specific guidance on what companies are required to report annually on a public basis to facilitate this process in the future.
Meanwhile, companies should report their company-wide GHG emissions and progress against targets through annual reports, sustainability reports, the company’s website, and/or disclosure through CDP’s annual questionnaire.
The SBTi safeguards all information provided by the company to assess its targets in accordance with the target validation service contract, which companies review and sign before the target validation process begins.
We publish approved targets on our Target Dashboard as well as a partner website (We Mean Business). The target wording is agreed by the company with the SBTi before publication.
The following information will be made visible when committed to the SBTi:
1. Company/Financial Institution name
4. Commitment Status
5. Headquartered region and location
7. Publication date
8. Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign/net-zero status
The following information will be added once a target is approved:
1. Near-term and long-term temperature rating
2. Net-zero year (if applicable)
3. Target wording
The SBTi released the criteria version 5.0 at the end of 2021. These new criteria came into effect on July 15, 2022.
The SBTi made several changes to its criteria for near-term targets. These include:
Increasing the minimum scope 1 and 2 ambition temperature classification from well below 2°C to 1.5°C.
Increasing the minimum scope 3 ambition temperature classification from 2°C to well below 2°C.
Shortening the time-frame for targets from 15 to 10 years.
In order to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, we need to halve global GHG emissions by 2030. This means we need to see emissions reductions on a massive scale in the near-term - there is no time to lose. 1.5°C-aligned near-term science-based targets are critical to ensuring companies urgently begin reducing emissions now at the pace and scale required to stand a chance of reaching net-zero by 2050 and limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Companies are able to set near-term scope 3 emission reduction targets aligned to either of the following options:
Absolute contraction in line with 1.5°C or well-below 2°C.
Sectoral Decarbonization Approach in line with 1.5°C or well-below 2°C.
Supplier Engagement Targets.
Economic Intensity Targets.
Physical Intensity Targets.
More details are included in the new version of the criteria.