Targets adopted by companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 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—to limit global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
WHAT IS THE SCIENCE BASED TARGETS INITIATIVE?
The Science Based Targets initiative champions science-based target setting as a powerful way of boosting companies’ competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. It is a collaboration between CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). It is one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments.
Showcases companies that set science-based targets through case studies, events and media to highlight the increased innovation, reduced regulatory uncertainty, strengthened investor confidence and improved profitability and competitiveness generated by science-based target setting.
Defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting with the support of a Technical Advisory Group
Offers resources, workshops and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption
Independently assesses and approves companies’ targets .
WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES AND DELIVERABLES OF THE INITIATIVE?
Science-based target setting will become standard practice and corporations will be contributing significantly to closing the emissions gap. The initiative develops guidance, tools, and technical assistance to facilitate the adoption of science-based targets and incentivise companies to set meaningful targets.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SETTING A SCIENCE BASED TARGET?
Reducing GHG emissions protects our climate and our communities – and it’s also good for business. The transition to a low-carbon economy is underway and accelerating globally. Every sector in every market will be transformed. Get on track now for low-carbon and future-proof growth by setting a science-based target to:
The transition to a low-carbon economy will catalyze the development of new technologies and operational practices. The companies that set ambitious targets now will lead innovation and transformation tomorrow.
Reduce regulatory uncertainty.
Taking ambitious action now helps companies stay ahead of future policies and regulations to limit GHG emissions. Companies that are seen as leaders are better able to influence policy makers and help shape developing legislation.
Strengthen investor confidence and credibility.
Companies taking a leadership position on climate bolster their credibility and reputation among stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, policy makers and environmental groups. Approximately half of consumers worldwide believe climate change will have a negative effect on their own lives, and 65 per cent agree that human activity is responsible for climate change.
Improve profitability and competitiveness.
Setting ambitious targets now ensures a lean, efficient, and durable company in a future where resources become increasingly more expensive – particularly resources derived from fossil fuels. Rising prices of raw materials can mean the difference between profit and loss.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SCIENCE BASED TARGETS INITIATIVE (SBTI) AND ASSESSING LOW CARBON TRANSITION (ACT)?
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a collaboration between CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact) and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. It champions science-based target setting as a powerful way of boosting companies’ competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. The initiative defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting, offers resources and guidance to reduce barriers to their adoption, and independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.
ACT is a joint pilot project by the French Environmental Agency (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Énergie, ADEME), CDP and other partners. ACT’s goal is to drive corporate climate action and help companies achieve a low carbon pathway, by assessing their strategy, taking a holistic view of a company’s operational impacts and dependencies, as well as of its value chain on relevant low carbon challenges per sector.
These two initiatives complement each other and are relevant at different stages in climate corporate action. 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 2C decarbonization pathway. By supporting companies to achieve the low carbon transition and by monitoring their climate action, ACT helps them implement that direction, and enhance the credibility of their climate commitments.
I WORK FOR A CONSULTANCY FIRM TO SET SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS WITH CLIENTS. HOW CAN I ENGAGE WITH THE INITIATIVE?
We appreciate your interest in the Science Based Targets initiative. Please contact us by sending an e-mail to [email protected] stating your interest and we will contact you as soon as possible.
I WORK FOR AN INDUSTRY ORGANIZATION INTERESTED IN PROMOTING SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS AMONGST OUR MEMBERS. HOW CAN I ENGAGE WITH THE SBT INITIATIVE?
We appreciate your interest in the Science Based Targets initiative. Please contact us by sending an e-mail to [email protected] stating your interest and we will contact you as soon as possible.
About the Science Based Targets initiative’s Call to Action
HOW CAN COMPANIES JOIN THE SCIENCE BASED TARGETS INITIATIVES’ CALL TO ACTION?
Companies can join the initiative and demonstrate their climate leadership by completing the following four steps:
Step 1. Commit.
Signing the Commitment Letter indicates that your company will work to set a science-based emission reduction target.
If your company already has an emissions reduction target, the letter confirms your interest in joining the initiative and having your existing target independently verified against a set of science-based criteria. After submitting your commitment letter to [email protected] , your company will be recognised as “Committed” on the website as well as on our partner websites.
Step 2. Develop a target.
Once your company has signed the commitment letter you will have up to 24 months to develop a science-based target and submit it for official validation. We encourage sustainability professionals to be in contact with the Science Based Targets initiative to informally test the target before securing final executive sign off.
Step 3. Submit your target for validation.
Once a target has been developed, your company must complete the Target Submission Form and submit it via email to [email protected] The Science Based Targets team will then verify the target against the SBTi criteria and inform you whether the target has been formally approved or if it needs additional work.
Step 4. Announce the target.
On confirmation that your target meets the SBTi criteria your company and its target will be showcased on the Science Based Targets initiative website as well as on our partner websites. For more information on each one of these steps, please refer to the Call to Action Guidelines.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COMMITTING BEFORE SUBMITTING TARGETS FOR VALIDATION?
By committing to set science-based targets before submitting targets for validation, companies are immediately recognized as “committed to setting a science-based target” on sciencebasedtargets.org, as well as on our partners’ websites at We Mean Business and CDP. Companies participating in the UN Global Compact will also be recognized on their website.
WHO CAN JOIN THE SBTI CALL TO ACTION CAMPAIGN?
At the moment, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) focuses on promoting corporate climate action and encourages companies from all sectors to demonstrate their leadership by joining the Call to Action campaign. The initiative particularly welcomes companies from the highest emitting sectors as they play a crucial role in ensuring the transition towards a low-carbon economy.
Currently, the SBTi does not engage with cities, local governments, public sector institutions, educational institutions or non-profit organizations. We hope to expand our focus in the future. However, in the meantime, the initiative encourages all these stakeholders to consider science-based target setting methods and other resources listed on our website and adapt them for their use, whenever possible.
I WORK FOR AN SMALL OR MEDIUM SIZED ENTERPRISE. CAN MY COMPANY JOIN THE CALL TO ACTION?
Yes, the Science Based Targets initiative does not have a restriction on the size of the companies that can join and any company, regardless of size, can set a science-based target. However, in order for a company to successfully set a science-based target a recent, comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions inventory will be required.
CAN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS JOIN THE CALL TO ACTION?
The initiative defines a financial institution as one that engages in investment activities as part of its core functions. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
In addition, if at least 5% of a company’s revenue comes from activities such as those described above, they would also be considered a financial institution.
The financial sector’s largest impact comes from its investment and lending activities (known as scope 3 emissions) and therefore it is imperative that targets for this sector encompass such activities. However, the method for assessing financial institutions’ scope 3 impacts against a well below-2°C or 1.5°C emissions trajectory is still being developed. Therefore we cannot yet review or approve any targets submitted by financial institutions. In the interim:
We invite such institutions to publicly commit to setting science-based scope 1, 2 and 3 targets when a methodology is available by signing the Commitment Letter for Financial Institutions. After submitting your commitment letter, your company will be recognised as “committed” on sciencebasedtargets.org as well as on our partners’ websites at We Mean Business and CDP. Companies participating in the UN Global Compact will also be recognized on their website.
We will also invite all committed financial institutions to participate in any process to develop target setting methods for the sector. Once a target setting method is finalized, all committed financial institutions will be notified and asked to submit their targets for validation within two years.
Note: If a company falls under the definition above but does not consider its investment activities significant/relevant for the purposes of science-based target setting, the company should provide an explanation in its target submission form.
I WORK FOR A LOCAL COUNCIL. ARE YOU ABLE TO PROVIDE ADVICE ON SETTING SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS FOR CITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT?
At the moment, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is focusing on private sector companies and we are currently not accepting commitments from cities and local governments. However, we hope to expand our focus in the future. We recommend that you consider the science-based targets methodologies listed on our website and adapt them whenever possible for your use. In particular, the C-FACT methodology can be used for cities to create climate-stabilizing targets.
IF MY COMPANY MAKES A COMMITMENT OR SETS A TARGET VIA THE SCIENCE BASED TARGET INITIATIVE (SBTI), CAN WE WITHDRAW AT A LATER DATE? ARE THERE ANY REPERCUSSIONS FOR DOING SO?
The Science Based Target initiative would strongly discourage companies withdrawing from the initiative but cannot prevent anyone from doing so. All references to companies that withdraw their commitment will be removed from our external materials and communications but there will be no public announcements of such removals.
The SBTi highly encourages committed companies who have concerns about their commitment and are considering withdrawing to get in touch with our team. Our team will do its best to address any concerns and explore ways in which we can provide support in this process.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE’RE UNABLE TO SET A TARGET WITHIN TWO YEARS? WILL OUR FAILURE TO DO THIS BE PUBLICISED OR WILL THERE BE ANY OTHER PENALTIES?
Under the Science Based Targets initiative Call to Action, committed companies have 24 months in which to submit their target for official validation. If companies have not submitted their target within 24 months of committing, their commitment will be removed from the SBTi website, unless specific circumstances apply. You can find more information on the SBTi’s Protocol on expired commitments here.
There will be no public announcement or media statements about any companies being removed from our external materials, nor any penalties applied.
Please note that the SBTi highly encourages committed companies who are experiencing difficulties in the target setting progress to get in touch with our team. We are happy to explore ways in which our team can provide support and help the company set a target within the deadline.
HOW DOES THE SCIENCE BASED TARGETS INITIATIVE’S CALL TO ACTION RELATE TO THE WE MEAN BUSINESS COMMIT TO ACTION CAMPAIGN?
By default companies that commit to the Science Based Targets initiative count toward the We Mean Business campaign (though they may opt out if they choose). However, companies that have committed to set science-based targets through We Mean Business must agree to the additional criteria required by the Science Based Targets initiative by signing the commitment letter. Through the We Mean Business campaign, companies can also commit to any or all of the following in addition to science-based targets:
procure 100% of electricity from renewable sources (RE100)
remove commodity-driven deforestation from all supply chains
report climate change information in mainstream reports as a fiduciary duty
responsible engagement in climate policy
put a price on carbon
reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions
IF I MAKE THE WMB COMMITMENT DO I STILL NEED TO SET A TARGET WITHIN TWO YEARS?
Companies that commit through We Mean Business also need to set a target within 24 months of committing and the same criteria for approving a target applies.
Develop a science-based target
WHAT TEMPERATURE GOAL WILL THE SCIENCE BASED TARGETS INITIATIVE (SBTI) ASSESS MY COMPANY’S TARGET AGAINST?
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15), commissioned by world governments following the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. This was the IPCC’s first major update since its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) released in 2014 and a significant update to our knowledge. The new report makes a very strong case about the benefits of limiting warming to 1.5°C and highlights the severe risks and impacts of reaching 2°C of warming. It provides new emissions pathways for limiting warming to 1.5°C and well-below 2°C.
Informed by SR15, in April 2019 it released updated target validation criteria, target validation protocols, technical resources and tools to enable companies to set targets in line with the level of decarbonization needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global average temperature rise to well-below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. The SBTi reviews and updates its target validation criteria annually to ensure that it is in line with the best available climate science.
Until October 2019, companies can continue to have their targets validated against the previous version of the SBTi criteria (version3.0), which accepts targets in line with a 2°C pathway. Companies are encouraged to set more ambitious targets, in line with well-below 2°C or 1.5°C, using the new criteria (version 4.0) released in April 2019. As of October 2019, version 4.0 of the criteria will be the only version in force and the SBTi will no longer accept targets in line with 2°C.
WILL THE TEMPERATURE GOAL OF MY TARGET BE USED PUBLICLY BY THE SBTI?
To encourage transparency and enhanced ambition, beginning in October 2019 the SBTi will begin publicly disclosing the ambition level of all approved Scope 1 and 2 targets as either in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, well-below 2°C, or 2°C. The SBTi continues to encourage companies to set ambitious Scope 3 targets and requires them for companies with Scope 3 emissions covering more than 40% of total emissions (see section D, questions 8).
IF MY COMPANY HAS A 2°C TARGET, WILL IT NEED TO UPDATED AGAINST THE NEW CRITERIA?
Existing targets in line with 2°C will continue to be valid, and will be labelled as 2°C targets on the SBTi website as of October 2019. After this date, new targets submitted will only be accepted if they are consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C or well-below 2°C. To ensure targets remain aligned with the most recent climate science, companies are required to review, and if necessary revalidate their targets every five years from the date of the original target approval. This will become mandatory in 2025.
DOES THE SBTI PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE WITH TARGET SETTING?
The SBTi provides free guidance documents, webinars and other resources such as science-based target setting tools that are available on our website. We highly recommend companies review those resources in-depth before submitting their target for validation to facilitate the target-setting process. Detailed information on our guidance is available in the SBTi Call to Action Guidelines Step 2 – Develop a Target and the FAQ “Which guidance documents can help me to set a science-based target?”.
Companies can also obtain feedback on their targets by submitting them for a preliminary or official target validation. Companies whose targets are not approved by the initiative will receive more in-depth guidance and technical support to improve their targets if they are committed to the initiative.
WHICH GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS CAN HELP ME TO SET A SCIENCE BASED TARGET?
Please refer to the SBTi Call to Action Guidelines for a detailed explanation of the process of setting science-based targets and for a full list of resources available.
Beginning in October 2019, the SBTi will assess targets against SBTi Criteria (4.0). This sets out the guidelines that targets must meet to be approved as in line with a 1.5°C or well-below 2°C. Companies wishing to submit or resubmit targets for validation against a 2°C criteria can continue to use SBTi Criteria (3.0) until October 2019.
Target-setting tool: This Excel-based tool incorporates updated scenarios from the IPCC’s IAMC 1.5°C scenario ensemble and the IEA ETP 2017. The tool allows companies to model targets against 1.5°C and well-below 2°C using the Absolute Contraction Method, and targets against well-below 2°C using the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach. Furthermore, the tool enables companies to model scope 3 targets aligned with the SBTi’s target validation criteria.
Science-based Target Setting Manual: This guides companies through every stage of the process to set a science-based target, from understanding the business benefits, to developing a target, getting internal senior management approval, and communicating about your target.
To obtain specific information on the different methodologies, including tools available, visit our website’s methods section. You can also refer to our case studies page, where we highlight companies’ experiences with setting science-based targets. The case studies explain how companies got internal buy-in to set the targets, the benefits and some of the innovations that are helping them achieve their goals. Finally, visit our events page to find previous and future events (including their recordings in some cases) related to this topic.
WHICH VERSION OF THE CRITERIA SHOULD MY COMPANY USE?
Companies looking set set science-based targets in line with 1.5°C or well-below 2°C should use the latest version of the SBTi Criteria (4.0). However, until October 2019, companies wishing to submit or resubmit targets for validation against a 2°C criteria can continue to use the SBTi Criteria 3.0. From October 2019, this option will no longer be available and companies will have to set targets against the 1.5°C or well-below 2°C criteria.
SHOULD MY COMPANY SET ABSOLUTE OR INTENSITY TARGETS?
Intensity targets are only eligible when they lead to absolute emission reduction targets in line with climate scenarios for keeping warming to within the temperature goals (2°C, well-below 2°C or 1.5°C) as set out within the SBTi Criteria or when they are modelled using an approved sector pathway or method by the SBTi (e.g. the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach).
WHICH METHOD SHOULD MY COMPANY CHOOSE WHEN SETTING A SCIENCE-BASED TARGET?
The Sectoral Decarbonization Approach and Absolute Emissions Contraction Method are recommended for setting Scope 1 and 2 targets. Companies who wish to use economic-based methods to set intensity targets may do so but note that intensity targets are only considered science-based if they lead to absolute reductions in line with climate science or are modelled using an approved sector pathway or method approved by the SBTi (e.g. the SDA).
Companies should not default to the target that is easiest to meet. The SBTi recommends that companies use the most ambitious decarbonization scenarios and methods that lead to the earliest reductions and the least cumulative emissions. A company should screen several of the methods and choose the method and target that best drives emissions reductions to demonstrate sector leadership. Method selection may also be influenced by practical considerations, such as the availability of input data for the base year and target year. Refer to the Science-based Target Setting Manual Section 3.2 “Recommendations for Choosing an SBT Method” for more information.
I WORK FOR A DIVERSE COMPANY THAT OPERATES ACROSS SECTORS. WHAT APPROACH SHOULD I USE TO SET A SCIENCE-BASED TARGET?
If a company operates in more than one sector, it should identify the top sectors that cover a majority of its operations. The methods that apply to these sectors can then be used as a benchmark to determine the final target. For example, a company might operate in the aluminium sector and have power generation operations to support the aluminium production. In this case, the company could set two different targets using both the aluminium and power generation sector pathways in the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach. A company should develop an aggregated target that applies across its entire structure for external reporting and communication, although separate internal targets may be developed by region, sector, facility, or emissions category for ease of tracking and execution.
IS THERE A SPECIFIC SBT SETTING METHODOLOGY FOR LAND-INTENSIVE SECTORS?
Many companies in land-intensive sectors have committed or set targets, but there are currently no sector-specific methodologies available for them to set SBTs that include AFOLU-related emissions. Thus, companies in these sectors might not be fully incorporating deforestation and other land-related emissions into their SBTs. The Science Based Targets initiative is undertaking a sector development project, the SBTi Forest, Land and Agriculture project (‘SBTi FLAG’), led by WWF, to address this methodology gap. The effort will focus on the development of methods and guidance to enable the food, agriculture, and forest sectors to set science-based targets (SBTs) that include deforestation, and other land-related impacts. The project is expected to be completed by Q2 2021. To learn more about this project and other related FAQs see here.
DOES THE SBTI TRACK COMPANIES’ PROGRESS AGAINST THEIR TARGETS?
The SBTi does not currently track companies’ progress against their targets but all companies with approved targets are required to annually report their company-wide GHG emissions to ensure that progress towards delivering their targets can be tracked. There are no specific requirements regarding where the inventory should be disclosed, as long as it is public. Recommendations include annual reports, sustainability reports, the company’s website, and/or CDP’s annual questionnaire.
IF MY COMPANY SETS A TARGET AND THEN FAILS TO MEET IT, ARE THERE ANY REPERCUSSIONS?
The SBTi does not currently track companies’ progress against delivery of their targets. Should it become apparent through their annual emissions inventories that a company is not delivering on its targets the SBTi reserves the right to remove that company from our external materials and websites.
There will be no public announcements or related media publications if the SBTi deems it necessary to remove a company from its public lists.
DOES THE SBTi PROVIDE GUIDANCE ON SETTING A SCOPE 3 TARGET?
To be approved by the initiative, companies’ Scope 3 targets must meet all SBTi criteria relevant to Scope 3 and it is highly recommended they also follow the recommendations available. Although current science-based target setting methods were developed for Scope 1 and 2 only, the SBTi recommends that companies use those methods to inform their Scope 3 targets, whenever possible. Additional information on how to adapt those methods to Scope 3 targets can be found in Section 6 “Set a Science Based Target: Scope 3 Sources” of the Science-based Target Setting Manual.
HOW DOES THE SBTi DECIDE IF A TARGET IS SCIENCE BASED? WHICH CRITERIA MUST TARGETS MEET TO BE APPROVED?
To determine if a target is science-based, our technical team performs a thorough review and assesses submitted targets against our criteria. Please see the SBTi Call to Action Guidelines for more information.
ONCE MY COMPANY HAS A TARGET APPROVED, IS THAT IT? OR DO WE NEED TO KEEP UPDATING OUR TARGET BASED ON NEW SCIENCE AND RESOURCES?
To ensure targets remain aligned with the most recent climate science, companies will be required to review, and if necessary revalidate, their targets every five years from the date of the original target approval. This will become mandatory in 2025.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CRITERIA AND THE SBTI’S SECTOR-SPECIFIC RESOURCES?
The SBTi has published sector-specific resources for the transport sector and is currently developing resources for companies in the apparel, aluminum, oil & gas, forest, land and agriculture (FLAG), and finance sectors. These resources will be updated to reflect the best available climate science in line with Criteria Version 4.0. Companies should follow relevant specific requirements for target setting (i.e. GHG accounting, ambition, etc.), as indicated in guidance relevant for their sector. The Sectoral Decarbonization Approach has also been updated with the IEA ETP 2017 Beyond 2°C Scenario.
WILL THE SCIENCE BASED TARGETS INITIATIVE REVIEW MY COMPANY’S TARGET WITHOUT US SUBMITTING A COMMITMENT LETTER?
Yes, but we highly recommend that your company commits before submitting a target for review as joining the Call to Action is a two-step process and there are benefits associated with the commitment. (please see FAQ “What are the benefits of joining the Call to Action campaign before submitting targets for validation?” in section “About the SBTi Call to Action”).
I WANT TO SUBMIT MY COMPANY’S TARGET(S) FOR VALIDATION, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
To submit your targets for validation, please download the latest version of the Target Submission Form and fill it out as clearly, completely, and accurately as possible. Missing, unclear, or erroneous information will result in the validation process being delayed. Please consult the included guidance before filling out the form as it will help you complete the form adequately. Once the form is completed, please send it together with any supporting documents to [email protected]
Note that starting from April 2019, all companies must use version 2.2.3 of the Target Submission Form. The initiative periodically updates the submission form to clarify certain fields and ensure our technical team has all the information required to perform the target validation. Using the latest version of the submission form will streamline the validation process.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PRELIMINARY AND AN OFFICIAL TARGET VALIDATION?
When filling out the target submission form, companies need to select whether they want a preliminary or an official validation. Companies should select preliminary target validation if they would like feedback only on a proposed target. If required, the Science Based Targets initiative will provide formal recommendations to improve the targets so that they meet the SBTi criteria. This feedback can inform internal management decisions in the science-based target setting process.
For more information on the difference between a preliminary and an official target validation, please see refer to Table p.9 in the SBTi Call to Action Guidelines.
HOW IS THE OFFICIAL TARGET VALIDATION PERFORMED?
For details on how the target validation is performed please refer to the SBTi Call to Action Guidelines, in particular to section on Validation process.
WILL INFORMATION SUBMITTED IN THE TARGET SUBMISSION FORM BE DISPLAYED PUBLICLY?
The Science Based Targets initiative safeguards the confidentiality of all information provided by the company to assess its targets. This means that information provided will not be shared with external stakeholders or used for any other purpose than validating the target.
If approved, the targets themselves will be published on the initiative’s website as well as the WMB and CDP’s websites. Once a company’s targets are approved, the company is contacted by the SBTi communication team in order to agree on a target wording and coordinate their publication as well as other media outreach opportunities, if available.
IF THE COMPANY DOES NOT PASS THE TARGET VALIDATION IS THIS COMMUNICATED PUBLICLY?
No, the result of the target validation is only communicated publicly if the company’s targets are approved. In any case, the company will receive a private letter by e-mail indicating the results of the target validation.
IF MY COMPANY DIDN’T PASS THE TARGET VALIDATION PROCESS, CAN WE RE-SUBMIT A REVISED TARGET? IS THERE A LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF TIMES A COMPANY CAN SUBMIT TARGETS FOR VALIDATION?
Yes, we strongly encourage companies that didn’t pass the target validation to carefully review their targets taking into account the feedback given by our technical team, update their targets accordingly and resubmit them for validation. Additional information can be found on the section “Target Validation Service.”
MY COMPANY IS NOT ABLE TO SET A SCOPE 3 TARGET AT THIS TIME, BUT WE WOULD LIKE TO SET A SCIENCE-BASED TARGET FOR OUR SCOPE 1 AND SCOPE 2 EMISSIONS. CAN THE SBT INITIATIVE VERIFY THIS TARGET AND/OR CAN THIS TARGET BE SUBMITTED FOR A PRELIMINARY VALIDATION?
In order to be officially approved by the initiative, the submitted target(s) must meet all the SBTi criteria, including the Scope 3 criteria. Criterion C13 indicates that a Scope 3 target is required for companies whose Scope 3 emissions cover more than 40% of their Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Thus, if your company’s Scope 3 emissions are above that threshold and you submit targets for an official validation but include only Scope 1 and Scope 2 targets, your targets will not pass the target validation. However, you can submit your Scope 1 and Scope 2 targets for a preliminary validation, in order to receive feedback on those targets. Please see FAQ ‘What is the difference between a preliminary and an official target validation?’ for more information.
CAN ALL COMPANIES HAVE THEIR TARGETS VALIDATED BY THE SBTI?
For financial institutions, and most oil and gas companies, sector-specific science-based methodologies are not fully available yet, meaning the SBTi cannot officially validate their targets. Please refer to FAQ B5 for the definition of what the SBTi considers a financial institution. If you are unsure whether your company would be affected by these limitations, please contact us at [email protected]
IS THERE A SPECIFIC SBT SETTING METHODOLOGY FOR LAND-INTENSIVE SECTORS?
Many companies in land-intensive sectors have committed or set targets, but there are currently no sector-specific methodologies available for them to set SBTs that include AFOLU-related emissions. Thus, companies in these sectors might not be fully incorporating deforestation and other land-related emissions into their SBTs. The Science Based Targets initiative is undertaking a sector development project, the SBTi Forest, Land and Agriculture project (‘SBTi FLAG’), led by WWF, to address this methodology gap. The effort will focus on the development of methods and guidance to enable the food, agriculture, and forest sectors to set science-based targets (SBTs) that include deforestation, and other land-related impacts. The project is expected to be completed by Q3 2021. To learn more about this project and other related FAQs see here. here.
Target Validation Service
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE?
In general, companies using the target validation service benefit from a faster turnaround and final decision, more comprehensive written feedback as well as unique opportunities to get direct insights from our team and clarify technical questions in one-on-one calls. Companies benefit from:
Initial screening of target submission
Up to two target assessments (1 preliminary and 1 official or 2 official) by a Target Validation Team*
For each assessment, one comprehensive target validation report including recommendations to address non-compliances if applicable and a written decision letter within 30 business days
Up to 60 min of feedback conversations after each assessment
Assistance with formulating the final wording of a target for official validations only (if approved)
*Companies will have 6 months after the first submission is completed to submit the second submission. ^To be able to complete the assessment within 30 business days, companies must respond to any queries for further information or clarification sent by the validation team within 2 business days. A delay in the query response time, will result in delay in the completion of the validation deliverables
HOW MUCH DO COMPANIES HAVE TO PAY?
The target validation service costs USD 4950 (+ applicable VAT), which includes up to two target assessments (companies can choose between one preliminary and one official, or two official validations). Subsequent resubmissions under the target validation service cost USD 2490 (+ applicable VAT) per submission. Please note that resubmissions will only include one target assessment* (preliminary or official). The resubmission price is available to companies that 1) have submitted at least once using the paid target validation service, 2) already have approved targets but need to update them, and/or 3) were approved through a preliminary validation under the free service.
*^ One target assessment includes a complete validation of all targets submitted in the form, including all scopes if applicable.
Used to be called unofficial validation
WHY IS THERE A TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE?
Science-based target setting is vital to maintaining competitiveness and profitability in the transition to a low-carbon future. From the launch of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in mid-2015 to April 2018, hundreds of companies have committed to set science-based targets, and our team of experts have approved the targets of more than 100 companies.
Momentum behind science-based targets continues to grow, with hundreds more companies having signalled their intention to set science-based targets in the near future. The SBTi responded to this demand by introducing a new and improved target validation service, which will help us achieve our goal of mainstreaming science-based target setting as standard practice for corporations worldwide. In addition, with this target validation service the SBTi is responding to stakeholder and company feedback on the free service, in particular to the requests for additional conversations with SBTi experts throughout the validation process and faster turnaround times.
The target validation service provides companies with a unique opportunity to gain direct insights as well as detailed feedback and support from our team of technical experts. It also provides companies with the outcome of their submission within a shorter timeframe than the free service.
WHEN IS THE PAID TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE MANDATORY?
The target validation service is applied to all companies submitting targets for official and preliminary validation (as of February 2019). For eligibility for fee exemptions, please see FAQ E6.
WHAT DOES THE COST PAY FOR?
The review process includes a thorough evaluation of each individual target by a team of experts in the field. On top of this, the initiative’s experts will offer companies detailed feedback and recommendations (including one-on-one calls). Each target assessment requires that a technical expert familiarizes him/herself with a company’s inventory and activities to meticulously validate the submitted target against our SBTi criteria. Each reviewer’s technical recommendations are then cross-checked by other experts in the team for quality control. For more details on the Target Validation Process please refer to the SBTi Call to Action Guidelines.
DOES THE INITIATIVE CONSIDER WAIVING THE COST OF THE TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE FOR SOME COMPANIES?
Yes, from February 2019, the cost of the target validation service can be waived for companies headquartered in developing countries and economies in transition, as defined by the United Nations Secretariat’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (see Tables below). Companies must request an exemption from the initiative to be considered for one.
DOES THE INITIATIVE’S TARGET ASSESSMENT VARY DEPENDING ON THE TYPE OF VALIDATION SELECTED?
The type of validation chosen will not affect the thoroughness of the assessment or the outcome of the validation made by the SBTi team. All targets submitted to the SBTi are assessed against the same SBTi criteria by the initiative’s expert technical reviewers and go through the same multi-step process that includes a quality check by the technical team.
ARE ALL COMPANIES ELIGIBLE FOR THE TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE FROM FEBRUARY 2019 ONWARDS?
From February 2019 onwards, all companies must use the target validation service to have their science-based targets validated. However, please note that companies in certain sectors (financial institutions) cannot yet have their targets officially validated by the initiative (see FAQ 9 Section D).
HOW CAN COMPANIES REQUEST THE TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE?
From February 2019 onwards, companies can request the target validation service via their submission form available for download on the Step-by-Step guide page of the SBTi website.
HOW CAN COMPANIES PAY FOR THE TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE?
Companies will receive a Terms & Conditions describing the service, deliverables and timeline. After signing the Terms & Conditions, companies will receive an invoice from the SBTi indicating the amount and account information to make the payment. Companies will have to pay within 30 business days from receiving the invoice..
MY COMPANY HAS ALREADY COMMITTED TO SET A SCIENCE-BASED TARGET. WHAT DOES THE PAID TARGET VALIDATION SERVICE MEAN FOR US?
From February 2019, all companies – whether they are new to the SBTi or have already made a commitment – must use our paid target validation service to have their science-based targets validated. However, companies headquartered in developing countries and emerging economies can be eligible for an exemption (see FAQ E6). If your company is committed to the SBTi and has questions, please get in touch with our team at [email protected].
Science Based Target initiative criteria
WHAT ARE THE EMISSIONS SCOPES?
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol categorises direct and indirect emissions into three broad scopes:
Scope 1: Direct GHG emissions occur from sources that are owned or controlled by the company, for example, emissions from combustion in owned or controlled boilers, furnaces, vehicles, etc.; emissions from chemical production in owned or controlled process equipment.
Scope 2: Indirect greenhouse gas emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.
Scope 3: Other indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity, electricity-related activities (e.g. T&D losses) not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc. For specific guidance on what to include in Scope 3, please refer to GHG Protocol Scope 3 Guidance
WHAT CONSTITUTES AS COMPANY-WIDE SCOPE 1 AND 2 EMISSIONS?
The company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory boundaries should be in accordance with the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard.. The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard requires seven gases to be included in inventories: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). As indicated by the SBTi Criteria C2, companies may exclude up to 5% of scope 1 and scope 2 emissions combined in their inventory and target.
For more information on ensuring the completeness and transparency of your GHG inventory, please refer to the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, in particular to Chapter 1 ‘GHG Accounting and Reporting Principles’, Chapter 3 ‘Setting Organizational Boundaries’ and Chapter 4 ‘Setting Operational Boundaries.’
ARE COMBINED SCOPE TARGETS ACCEPTED?
Targets that combine scopes (e.g. 1+2 or 1+2+3) are permitted, as long as the both the overall target and the scope 1 and 2 portion of the target are in line with climate science. The scope 1 and 2 portion of a combined target can include reductions from both scopes or only from one of the scopes. In the latter case, the company has to compensate for the other scope. That means, if each scope is 100 gt CO2 eq (200 gt CO2 for S1+S2 total) and the company wants to reduce its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 30% through reducing only one scope, then that scope emissions have to be reduced by 60 gt CO2eq.
For combined scopes 1+2+3, note that since April 16th 2017, SBTi Criteria C10 requiring that the scope 1 and 2 portion of the target is in line with climate science.
REGARDING THE TIMEFRAME CRITERION TO HAVE THE TARGET END WITHIN A MINIMUM OF 5 YEARS AND MAXIMUM OF 15 YEARS FROM THE DATE OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE TARGET, WHAT IS DEFINED AS THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE TARGET?
All targets must cover a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 15 years from the date the target is submitted to the Science Based Targets initiative for an official check.
Please note that only targets submitted in the first half of a calendar year can include that year toward the 5-year minimum. For example, companies submitting a target by the end of June 2018 can have a target year between 2022 and 2032. Targets submitted July to December 2018 must have a target year between 2023 and 2033. If the target is slightly shorter or longer than this period, the Steering Committee may allow it.
WHERE SHOULD THE COMPANY DISCLOSE ITS GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS INVENTORY AND PROGRESS AGAINST THEIR TARGETS ON AN ANNUAL BASIS?
There are no specific requirements on where the inventory should be disclosed, as long as it is public. Recommendations include annual reports, sustainability reports, the company’s website, and/or CDP’s annual questionnaire.
HOW SHOULD THE COMPANY REPORT ANY SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN GROWTH PROJECTIONS AND OTHER ASSUMPTIONS USED WITH THE SCIENCE BASED TARGET SETTING METHODOLOGIES AND SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO ITS BUSINESS OR DATA AND EMISSIONS FACTORS USED IN ITS INVENTORY PROCESS?
The company should notify any member of the Science Based Targets initiative of any significant changes. It is also recommended to report these major changes publically, as relevant. In addition, please note that the SBTi recommends that science-based targets are recalculated, as needed, to reflect significant changes that would compromise its relevance and consistency. To ensure consistent tracking of performance over time, a company should recalculate its SBT, as needed, to reflect significant changes that would otherwise compromise the target’s relevance. The following changes should trigger a target recalculation:
Scope 3 emissions become 40% or more of aggregated Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions;
Emissions of exclusions in the inventory or target boundary change significantly;
Significant changes in company structure and activities (e.g. acquisitions, divestitures, mergers, insourcing or outsourcing, shifts in goods or service offerings);
Significant adjustments to the base-year inventory or changes in data to set targets such as growth projections (e.g. discovery of significant errors or a number of cumulative errors that are collectively significant)
Other significant changes to projections/assumptions used in setting the science-based targets
The use of offsets is not counted as reductions toward the progress of companies’ science-based targets. The SBTi requires that companies set targets based on emission reductions through direct action within their own boundaries or their value chains. Offsets are only considered to be an option for companies wanting to contribute to finance additional emission reductions beyond their science-based target/net-zero.
CAN INSETTING PROJECTS COUNT TOWARDS ACHIEVING SBTS?
There is no international standard or consistent definition to describe insetting projects nor an agreed methodology to account for their GHG emission reductions. Further work needs to be done to standardize the definition of insetting projects and to develop a clear accounting methodology. For these reasons, the SBTi will be open to consider these projects as a way to achieve SBTs under certain circumstances. Insetting projects could potentially count as long as the emissions they address are within the Scope 3 emissions boundary of the company and as long as there is no double counting (i.e. the impact of the project it is not being counted by another company – other than the one developing the insetting project and the company taking into account the insetting reductions for Scope 3 purposes).
THE SBTI RECOMMENDATIONS (R9 – HEAT AND STEAM) STATES THAT COMPANIES SHOULD MODEL HEAT AND STEAM RELATED EMISSIONS AS IF THEY WERE PART OF THEIR SCOPE 1 EMISSIONS, WHEN SHOULD WE APPLY THIS?
This applies to Scope 2 targets modelling. For science-based target modelling purposes, when using the SDA, it is recommended that companies model purchased heat and steam related emissions as if they were part of their direct (i.e. scope 1) emissions.
DO RENEWABLE ENERGY INSTRUMENTS COUNT TOWARD SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS?
Renewable energy instruments such as renewable energy certificates (RECs) should only be used to meet reductions of scope 2 emissions using the market based approach. Please see the GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance for further guidance on scope 2 accounting.
HOW DOES THE COP21 PARIS AGREEMENT AFFECT THE RECOMMENDED LEVEL OF AMBITION OF TARGETS?
The Paris Agreement achieved at COP21 aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change namely by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.” The Science Based Targets initiative’s partners (CDP, UN Global Compact, WWF and WRI) welcome the UNFCCC parties’ agreement.
The SBTi continues to recommend that companies go beyond the minimum required 2°C pathways and pursue targets that are in line with the well below 2°C objective. Exceeding the requirements of a 2°C scenario will provide essential first steps to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”
Considering that both the well-below 2°C and the within 2°C scenarios involve the same information companies need to set targets and involve similar technological feasibilities, companies should take action now on raising ambition beyond the 2°C minimum. Delaying action on increasing ambition beyond 2°C is detrimental to averting the worst impacts from climate change.
Scoring Science Based Targets in CDPs 2019 Climate Change questionnaire
WHERE CAN I FIND RESOURCES RELATED TO SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS SCORING CDP’S 2019 CLIMATE CHANGE QUESTIONNAIRE?
Companies should refer to CDP’s 2019 Technical Note on science-based targets which will provide them with guidance on science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in CDP’s 2019 climate change questionnaire as well as with a summary of the steps they should undertake in order to obtain points with science-based targets.
Please refer to Chapter 2 ‘How science-based targets are scored in the 2019 climate change questionnaire‘(p.3) of CDP’s 2019 Technical Note on science-based targets.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SBTI’S OFFICIAL TARGET VALIDATION AND CDP’S QUESTIONNAIRE CRITERIA FOR LEADERSHIP LEVEL POINTS?
Please refer to section 2.2 ‘Leadership level points’ (p. 5) of CDP’s 2019 Technical Note on science-based targets.
WHY DO THE CRITERIA FOR THE TWO ROUTES DIFFER?
CDP aims to minimise the reporting burden on companies, in part by reducing changes to the questionnaire from year to year. At the same time, CDP must collect enough information to assess the appropriateness of thousands of company targets. The questions in the climate change questionnaire balance the dynamics of these two contrasting principles. As a result, CDP is unable to collect the type and amount of information necessary to determine if a target is science-based. This reflects a difference in the applications of best practices rather than the principles behind the best practices themselves.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR A TARGET TO COUNT FOR CDP SCORING IN CDP’S CLIMATE CHANGE QUESTIONNAIRE 2019?
For a target validation to count for CDP scoring, be sure to tick the box that says official check/validation in the target submission from and to send the form to targets @sciencebasedtargets.com by 23:59 UTC-12 May 15, 2019,except for companies requesting a target validation fee exemption. Companies requesting an exemption are required to submit by 23:59 UTC-12 April 15, 2019 for their targets to be considered for Leadership points in CDP’s 2019 Climate Change Questionnaire 
 Only companies headquartered in developing countries and emerging economies as defined by the United Nations Secretariat’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs are eligible for an exemption. Please see SBTi FAQs Question E6 for detailed information.
 Please note that during April 1st to July 31st, due to limited capacity, the SBTi can only guarantee the assessment of one submission per company in this period. Additional submissions per company during this period will be assessed as possible on first come, first served basis.
HOW AND WHEN WILL COMPANIES RECEIVE A DECISION FROM THE INITIATIVE ON WHETHER OR NOT THEIR TARGET IS SCIENCE-BASED?
The SBTi will email the contact listed on the target submission form a letter stating whether or not the target was approved as science-based. If the target is not approved, the letter will state where it has not met the SBTi criteria. Companies should expect to receive this information no later than by the end of July 2019 for targets submitted for CDP Scoring by 23:59 UTC-12 May 15, 2019.
ARE TARGETS THAT QUALIFY FOR LEADERSHIP THROUGH THE CDP QUESTIONNAIRE BUT HAVEN’T PASSED THE SBTI OFFICIAL TARGET VALIDATION CONSIDERED SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS?
CDP only considers companies whose targets have been formally assessed through the SBTi official target validation as science-based.
IF MY TARGETS WERE APPROVED LAST YEAR AND I OBTAINED LEADERSHIP POINTS FOR CDP’S CLIMATE CHANGE QUESTIONNAIRE 2016 AND/OR 2017/2018, WILL I AUTOMATICALLY OBTAIN POINTS FOR THIS YEAR’S QUESTIONNAIRE? DO I NEED TO RESUBMIT TARGETS?
If you have targets that were approved by the SBTi for CDP’s 2016 and/or 2017 climate change questionnaire, you will receive Leadership points for them. You do not need to resubmit targets as long as they are still valid by the time CDP scoring for 2019 is finalised (for example, if your targets were approved last year but you later withdrew them, you won’t receive Leadership points for those targets).
FAQs for SMEs
I WORK FOR AN SMALL OR MEDIUM SIZED ENTERPRISE. HOW CAN MY COMPANY JOIN THE CALL TO ACTION?
On April 15, 2020, the Science Based Targets initiative launched a special, streamlined target validation route for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). If your company is a non-subsidiary, independent company which employs fewer than 500 employees, here’s how to set a science-based target: Complete the Target Setting Letter for SMEs and submit the form via email to [email protected]. Please note that a one-time target validation fee of USD 1,000 (+ applicable VAT) applies.
SMEs that committed to the SBTi before April 15, 2020 can submit their targets using the standard target validation process until July 15, 2020. After this date, they must use the Target Setting Letter for SMEs.
If your company is an SME and the SBTi has already approved your science-based target, the approved target will remain valid. However, if you wish to resubmit or update your target, you must use the Target Setting Letter for SMEs after July 15, 2020.
HOW IS THE ROUTE FOR SMES DIFFERENT? WHY IS THERE A SPECIAL ROUTE FOR SMES?
The SBTi’s streamlined route for SMEs enables them to bypass the initial stage of commiting 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 options 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.
MY COMPANY SUBMITTED A TARGET USING THE SPECIAL ROUTE FOR SMESs. WHEN WILL IT BE PUBLISHED?
Targets submitted through the dedicated route for SMEs will be automatically 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.