"The Net-Zero Standard gives companies a clear blueprint on how to bring their net-zero plans in line with the science, which is non-negotiable in this decisive decade for climate action. Because we are running out of time." Johan Rockström Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Professor in Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam
Why set a science-based net-zero target?
The Corporate Net-Zero Standard provides a common, robust, science-based understanding of net-zero. It gives business leaders clarity and confidence that their near- and long-term decarbonization plans are aligned with climate science.
Net-zero pledges now cover 92% of GDP and 88% of emissions worldwide. Despite this, the definition of net-zero and the path to get there has been interpreted in different and inconsistent ways.
Without a common definition, targets can differ in terms of the emissions sources included and the depth and speed of emissions reductions. This has fuelled confusion and accusations of greenwashing.
The SBTi’s Corporate Net-Zero Standard addresses this problem by providing a clear, consistent and science-based definition of net-zero. By aligning with this Standard, companies can set science-based net-zero targets to demonstrate their climate action leadership and their commitment to ensuring a habitable planet for all.
The SBTi’s Corporate Net-Zero Standard is the world’s only framework for corporate net-zero target setting in line with climate science. It includes the guidance, criteria, and recommendations companies need to set science-based net-zero targets consistent with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
Key components of the Corporate Net-Zero Standard
- Near-term targets: Rapid, deep cuts to direct and indirect value-chain emissions must be the overarching priority for companies. Companies must set near-term science-based targets to roughly halve emission before 2030. This is the most effective, scientifically-sound way of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
- Long-term targets: Companies must set long-term science-based targets. Companies must cut all possible - usually more than 90% - of emissions before 2050.
- Neutralize residual emissions: After a company has achieved its long-term target and cut emissions by more than 90%, it must use permanent carbon removal and storage to counterbalance the final 10% or more of residual emissions that cannot be eliminated. A company is only considered to have reached net-zero when it has achieved its long-term science-based target and neutralized any residual emissions.
- Beyond Value Chain Mitigation (BVCM): Businesses should invest in BVCM in addition to near- and long-term science-based targets. BVCM includes projects to restore natural carbon sinks like tropical forests and peatlands as well as projects that protect nature such as Jurisdictional REDD+. It also includes technology based removals such as Direct Air Capture and Carbon Storage. BVCM is never a substitute for rapid and deep cuts to value-chain emissions. Please refer to the BVCM page for details.
Emma Watson, the SBTi's Head of Standards, explains the key features of the Corporate Net-Zero Standard.
Key strengths of the Corporate Net-Zero Standard
- Completeness: The target covers all material sources of emissions across company value chains.
- Early Action: The near-term target delivers immediate action in line with climate science.
- Ambition: The target leads to mitigation consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C in line with robust climate scenarios.
- Timeframe: Companies must commit to reaching net-zero by 2050 at the latest.
- Accountability: The target will be subject to a robust and independent accountability framework.
Who can set a net-zero target?
The Corporate Net-Zero Standard is intended for companies that wish to set science-based net-zero targets through the SBTi.
The SBTi offers a tailored route for SMEs to set net-zero targets. Read the SME FAQ for more information.
This Standard does not cover net-zero targets for financial institutions. The SBTi is developing the first global standard for net-zero targets in the financial sector.
How to set a net-zero target
Corporates can follow the SBTi’s established target-setting process to commit to and set science-based targets.
Companies are invited to commit to set net-zero targets by signing the SBTi Commitment Letter. To submit your net-zero target for validation, use the SBTi Target Validation booking system, or for SMEs, use the SME target setting system.
"We need bold but credible net-zero plans from companies. If you are a business leader who wants to walk the talk, I encourage you to align your company's climate strategy with what is required by science.” Mads Nipper CEO, Ørsted,
Development of the Standard
Development of the Corporate Net-Zero Standard followed a thorough, inclusive, and transparent process. The process benefitted from input and expertise from a diverse range of stakeholders and close consultation with an independent Expert Advisory Group formed of experts from academia, civil society, science and business.
To support the target-setting process, the SBTi has developed key guidance materials. These were drafted, tested, and refined in collaboration with our partners and contributors from the scientific, business and civil society community.
- SBTi Corporate Net-Zero Standard: Provides guidance, criteria and recommendations to support corporates in setting net-zero targets through the SBTi.
- Corporate Net-Zero Standard Criteria: he criteria companies' net-zero targets must conform with to be validated as science-based by the SBTi (also available in Japanese).
- Getting Started Guide: A simple, step-by-step flowchart to help companies understand how to set net-zero targets in their specific situation.
- Net-Zero Tool: Target-setting tool to calculate long-term SBTs in line with the Corporate Net-Zero Standard.
- Beyond value chain mitigation FAQ: The SBTi is publishing resources on BVCM to support companies in financing climate action.
- Pathways to Net-Zero: This technical summary documents the SBTi’s approach to determining 1.5ºC-aligned pathways for target-setting.
- Science-Based Net-Zero Targets: ‘Less Net, more Zero’
- The SBTi Net-Zero Standard: A beacon of light
- Going Above and Beyond to Contribute to Societal Net-Zero
- Net-Zero: Urgent Beyond Value Chain Mitigation Is Essential
- Net-zero ambition 500: companies across the globe committed to leading the science-based net-zero transformation
The Net-Zero Standard: A deep dive into setting corporate science-based net-zero targets webinar
Foundations for net-zero target-setting in the corporate sector