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Information about the SBTi and science-based targets
Science-based targets provide a clearly-defined pathway for companies and financial institutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth.
Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with climate science is good for the planet and for businesses.
A survey found that science-based target setting future-proofs growth, saves money, provides resilience against regulation, boosts investor confidence, and spurs innovation and competitiveness – while also demonstrating concrete sustainability commitments to regulators, consumers and investors.
Companies and financial institutions going through the target validation process benefit from detailed feedback and support from the SBTi’s technical experts. Organizations who sign the SBTi commitment letter are recognized as “Committed” on our website, as well as the We Mean Business website if committing to Net-Zero. Companies participating in the UN Global Compact that commit to net-zero will also be recognized on their website.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) mobilizes the private sector to take urgent climate action.
By guiding companies in science-based target setting, we enable them to tackle global warming while seizing the benefits and boosting their competitiveness in the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
We do this by:
1. Defining and promoting best practice in science-based target setting across sectors.
2. Providing technical assistance and expert resources to companies and financial institutions who set science-based targets in line with the latest climate science.
3. Bringing together a team of experts to give organizations independent assessment and validation of targets.
4. Leading net-zero in the private sector via the Corporate Net-Zero Standard and forthcoming Net-Zero Standard for Financial Institutions.
5. Increasing accountability and credibility of corporate climate action though our forthcoming monitoring, reporting and verification framework.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a partnership between CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact). Setting science-based targets via the SBTi is also one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments.
Organizations that commit to the SBTi automatically count towards the We Mean Business campaign (though they may opt out if they choose).
The SBTi leads the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign, calling for business leaders to set emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5°C future. Business Ambition for 1.5°C is a partner in the Race to Zero campaign. Therefore, companies that commit to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign are automatically recognized as part of the Race to Zero campaign as well.
The ACT initiative complements the SBTi. By supporting companies in the process of setting science-based targets, the SBTi helps them define a clear sense of direction to be in line with a decarbonization pathway. By supporting companies to achieve the low carbon transition and monitoring their climate action, ACT helps them implement that direction, and enhance the credibility of their climate commitments.
The Science Based Targets Network is developing science-based targets for protecting water, land, biodiversity and oceans for companies, and climate targets for cities.
The SBTi receives three different sources of funding:
- Core funding
- Project-specific funding for time-limited projects to develop new sector guidance or update specific standards
- Validation service fees to recover the cost of running our target validation service
Corporate funding agreements between SBTi and companies funding specific projects ensure that all decision making related to the project is taken independently by the SBTi. All corporate funders of sector projects are disclosed on the specific sector pages along with any other companies participating in the project.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has temporarily paused near- and long-term target validations and target updates for automakers until 1.5°C scope 3 targets for use-phase emissions from new road vehicles are developed and approved. This decision is effective as of March 28 2022. Companies with existing commitments will be granted extensions if affected by this policy.
Addressing specific emission categories directly related to a company’s main activity has significant potential to improve the credibility and consistency of decarbonization claims for both near- and long-term targets. As the vast majority of automakers’ overall emissions originate from end-users driving the vehicles, company-wide decarbonization claims aligned with 1.5°C should accordingly be consistent across vehicle use-phase emissions, accounted for under scope 3 category 11 ‘use of sold products’.
There is currently no sectoral decarbonization approach (SDA) for transport that allows companies to align their use-phase emissions targets of new road vehicles with 1.5°C pathways. To ensure automakers can align the majority of emissions with a 1.5°C trajectory, this temporary pause has been put in place until the SBTi is able to update the SDA Transport tool pathways and make these respective changes to the SBTi Criteria.
This policy applies to the following:
Automakers: These companies cannot submit scope 3 category 11 targets until 1.5°C-aligned pathways for new road vehicles are released. This applies to all newly manufactured road vehicles classified as: new light duty passenger vehicles, new light commercial vehicles, new medium freight trucks and new heavy freight trucks.
This policy does not apply to the following:
Autopart manufacturers: Such companies with direct use of sold product emissions may continue to use the well-below-2°C aligned pathways for new road vehicles available in the SDA Transport Tool for setting targets. Alternatively, autopart manufacturers with direct use of sold products can apply other valid scope 3 target setting methods for informing target ambition for their category 11 emissions.
Our aim continues to be to develop robust methodologies that will support decarbonization at the pace and scale required by science. The SBTi is prioritizing the development of 1.5°C-aligned pathways for automakers. For any questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This policy only affects automakers, including companies that manufacture new road vehicles, such as new light duty vehicles, new light commercial vehicles, new medium freight trucks and new heavy freight trucks. See also the table below for more details and the SBT Transport Guidance.
Type of transport-related emissions
Companies that manufacture new road vehicles
Well-to-wheel (WTW) emissions from new vehicles
Passenger - New light duty vehicles
All motorized vehicles having four wheels aimed at the mobility of persons on all types of roads, up to nine persons per vehicle and 3.5t of gross vehicle weight.
Freight - New light commercial vehicles
Pickups, vans and small trucks with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of less than 3.5t, used for the transportation of goods.
Freight - New medium freight trucks
Commercial vehicles with a GVW from 3.5t to 15t, including small lorries, rigid trucks, tractor-trailers and large vans.
Freight - New heavy freight trucks
Commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) greater than 15t, they typically serve long-haul delivery of goods, have two or more axles and a power rating between 200 and 600kW.
Enabling science-based emissions reductions for fossil fuel companies is complex and the SBTi is taking a cautious and deliberate approach. As always, our aim is to develop robust methodologies that will support decarbonization at the pace and scale required by science. Please reference our oil and gas sector page for updates on this project.
Due to the developing status of our method, in addition to the existing SBTi policy to pause the validation of fossil fuel sector targets, we are also pausing commitments from these companies. During this period, commitments will not be accepted from companies or subsidiaries in categories 1.1 and 1.2 below. This policy is effective immediately and removal of previous commitments by oil and gas sector companies has been completed.
The SBTi reserves the right to remove other committed companies that, after careful evaluation, are considered to fall within category 1 below. Companies subject to this policy with targets that were approved prior to the policy's implementation will remain valid for five years from the approval date. The SBTi will share further updates on the development of this guidance and this policy later in 2022.
1. Companies that cannot commit to the SBTi until the oil and gas method is finalized.
-1.1 Companies with any level of direct involvement in exploration, extraction, mining and/or production of oil, natural gas, coal or other fossil fuels, irrespective of percentage revenue generated by these activities, i.e. including, but not limited to, integrated oil and gas companies, integrated gas companies, exploration and production pure players, refining and marketing pure players, oil products distributors, gas distributors and retailers and traditional oil and gas service companies (except as noted in category 2 below).
2. Companies that can join the SBTi
-2.1 Companies that derive less than 50% of revenue from a) sale, transmission and distribution of fossil fuels, or b) providing equipment or services to fossil fuel companies (see 1.1).
-2.2 Companies with less than 5% revenue from fossil fuel assets (e.g. coal mine, lignite mine, etc.) for extraction activities with commercial purposes.
-2.3 Electric utilities that mine coal for their own power generation.
-2.4 Subsidiaries of fossil fuel companies (see 1.1) may join the SBTi if the subsidiary itself is not considered a fossil fuel company.
SBTi has discretion to evaluate the eligibility of fossil fuel company subsidiaries on a case-by-case basis based on the subsidiaries’ operational model and relevance of its emissions to the parent organization. Subsidiaries that are established for the sole purpose of setting an SBT on a portion of a fossil fuel companies’ GHG inventory are not permitted to join SBTi.
For transparency, subsidiaries who set targets but whose parent companies are ineligible will be identified via a footnote in their target wording.
In summary, the SBTi is continuing work on the oil and gas methodology. Until this method is final, the following will be put in place:
- Companies that fit category 1 with commitments will be removed from the SBTi target dashboard.
- The SBTi will no longer accept commitments and/or validate targets for companies that fit category 1.
This policy will be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it is aligned with the latest SBTi position. Please see our latest release on Oil and Gas Sector guidance here. Further updates will be shared later in 2023. For any questions, contact the team at OGSector@sciencebasedtargets.org.
Policy change log
- 07/19/2022 - policy updated to clarify approach regarding subsidiaries of fossil fuel companies
- 04/19/2022 - policy updated to improve clarity
- 03/07/2022 - policy update published
The SBTi understands that science-based targets can be complex and difficult for companies to always communicate accurately. It is vital that details around science-based targets are communicated accurately to ensure their credibility is maintained. That’s why we have detailed communications guidance, which we share with all committed companies, to support them with communicating about their commitment and target.
When we see a company either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresenting their science-based target(s) or commitment(s) in their external communications, we will make contact, highlight the issue and ask them to make a correction.
However, we cannot police all communications about science-based targets all the time, so it is important that companies follow the guidelines to ensure they are communicating accurately.
Full confidence and agreement on the draft methodology was not developed internally and the SBTi sought further input via an external expert review of the methodology, you can read the report here. Please visit our O&G sector webpage for updates and to review recent publications.
As per C22 of the SBTi Target Validation Protocol, all companies involved in the sale or distribution of natural gas and/or other fossil fuels products shall set near-term and long-term scope 3 targets that are at a minimum consistent with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase to 1.5°C, irrespective of the share of these emissions compared to the total scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions of the company. Customer engagement targets as described in C19 are not eligible for this criterion. More guidance is detailed in C23 on the 50% revenue threshold for companies with fossil fuel activities.
For other outstanding questions please contact OGsector@sciencebasedtargets.org.
While new targets from 15 July 2022 will only be accepted if they are consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, existing targets in line with well-below 2°C or 2°C (which were set before the new criteria was introduced) will continue to be valid.