Developing the Net-Zero Standard

In 2019, the SBTi initiated an inclusive, stakeholder-informed process to develop a framework to enable companies to set robust and credible net-zero targets in line with a 1.5°C future.


Development process

The Net-Zero Standard was developed through a balanced, transparent, and inclusive stakeholder process. The SBTi proactively engaged with interested individuals and organizations, providing a range of updates and ways to input into the process. This includes:

  • Consultation with the SBTi’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Groups, and a dedicated Net Zero Expert Advisory Group
  • Two public consultations reaching over 500 people
  • A road-test and pilot involving over 80 companies
  • Ad-hoc information and consultation sessions including webinars and workshops
  • Regular updates on the SBTi website
  • A net-zero newsletter

The SBTi initiated a scoping phase of work in 2019 to develop a framework to enable companies to set robust and credible net-zero targets in line with a 1.5°C future. The standard development process formally began after publication of the Foundations for net-zero target setting in the corporate sector paper in September 2020. At this point, the SBTi convened a dedicated Net-Zero Expert Advisory Group (EAG), which was to be the main consensus building body for the project.

The SBTi then began developing detailed criteria and guidance in regular consultation with the EAG, as well as the SBTi’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Group. The SBTi requested feedback from stakeholders to improve the standard through two public consultations and a company road test. The standard was launched on 28 October 2021.

Future development

We are currently conducting research to inform our approach to activities that aim to accelerate climate action beyond a company’s value-chain. The Expert Advisory Group will be scrutinizing this research and will be involved in the decisions SBTi makes in this area:

  • The SBTi is conducting further research to inform the “net” of net-zero (the compensation and neutralisation criteria) elements of the Net-Zero Standard. As part of the process of developing the Net-Zero Standard, SBTi is working with the advisory firm SYSTEMIQ to explore how we might encourage companies to go beyond their science-based targets to mitigate emissions outside their value chains.
  • The SBTi recognizes there is an urgent need to scale up finance in the near-term to support climate mitigation, and is undertaking research to understand what role it should play in incentivizing and enabling these investments. In the coming months, the SBTi will use the results of this work to consider various models through consultation with the Expert Advisory Group and other stakeholders and decide on ac course of action in early 2022. Please see the Beyond Value Chain Mitigation FAQ for more information.

Expert advisory group

The Expert Advisory Group involves a range of representatives from science, business, academia and civil society:

Net-Zero Road Test

Between 15 July 2021 and 31 August 2021, over 80 companies road-tested the target validation criteria and guidance for the SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard. This helped us ensure the net-zero criteria, guidance and target setting tools are robust, clear and practical. It also helped identify challenges for adoption and implementation of the Standard across industries.

The road test focused on criteria and methods for setting near-term and long-term science-based targets which aim to reduce value-chain emissions in line with the science.

Companies were invited to take part in the road test in May 2021. Companies that either already had science-based targets aligned to 1.5°C validated by the SBTi or had committed to the SBTi's Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign were invited via email. From the group of companies that applied, the SBTi then selected companies aiming for diversity in region, sector and emissions profile. The SBTi invited all road test companies to take part in the pilot validation, but were only able to validate seven companies on a first-come, first-served basis due to resource constraints. Thus, participation in the pilot validation is not a reflection on the performance of any other company in the road test.

Public consultation

Two public consultations were held.

The first public consultation on the draft SBTi Net-Zero Criteria was conducted between January and March 2021. Over 400 respondents contributed their views, helping to further refine the Net-Zero Criteria.

The Net-Zero Pre-Launch Public Consultation was open for comment from 20 September until 6 October 2021. More than 168 participants helped to refine our resources before the launch Net-Zero Standard on 28 October 2021. The consultation aimed to:

  • Collect input from external stakeholders on the clarity of the Net-Zero Standard materials

  • Understand and build support for the SBTi’s future direction

  • Identify areas of improvement

Development resources