The SBTi’s response to 'Inside the little known group setting the corporate climate agenda', MIT Technology Review, May 16 2023

17th May 2023

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is evolving into a continuously improving standards-based validation service provider.

We set climate standards for corporates and financial institutions, including providing guidance, tools and criteria which companies then use, voluntarily, to set targets and time frames for emission reduction, including providing documentation to indicate how these were calculated and estimated. Our validation team then assesses these to determine conformance with SBTi standards and renders a judgment, which is communicated to the company.

Our validation checks go through three levels of assessment and a judgment can be made along five possibilities, ranging from Agree to Approve to Agree to Reject. Companies whose targets are not approved are provided with corrective measures and a possibility to resubmit within a specified time period, after which they are reassessed. The SBTi does not work with companies to develop or set science-based targets. We also do not review or validate organizations’ climate plans, nor are we in a position to validate the accuracy of the data submitted to us.

Like other certification or verification organizations, the SBTi charges a fee for services rendered to assess a company’s targets for conformity to our standards. None of the companies whose targets are validated have a way to influence the results.

Over the last six months, the SBTi has been actively establishing a Technical Council, made up of independent members who will make decisions on our standard development and revision process and procedures, including approving standards, guidance and methods. This body will adopt a code of conduct, including relevant policies to ensure decisions taken are impartial, credible and ethical, and follow good practices for standard setting. It will be overseen by the SBTi Board. Additionally, we have hired a Compliance Director to ensure systems and processes are established for the submission and processing of complaints, allegations and appeals.

Despite these initiatives, we agree that more companies need to reduce their GHG emissions to significantly reverse the negative impacts of climate change. The SBTi recognizes that it will take all stakeholders and duty bearers to reduce emissions to levels to make a significant impact and therefore calls upon and welcomes all efforts made in this regard.

We agree voluntary standards like the SBTi can only go so far and that regulation is needed to drive large-scale change.