Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG)
Guidance for land-intensive sectors
Why take action?
The forest, land and agriculture sector is one of the industries at highest risk from the impact of climate change. But it is also a significant source of emissions. It represents nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - the largest emitting sector after energy.
To keep 1.5°C within reach, tackle food crisis risks and enable the transformation to a global net-zero future, cutting land related emissions is paramount.
Many companies with land-intensive operations have committed or set targets through the SBTi. Many are also reporting their GHG emissions publicly. However, few account for land-based emissions or removals in their targets or disclosures. A key barrier has been the lack of available guidance and methods - until now.
A new methodology
The Forest, Land and Agriculture Science Based Target Setting Guidance is the world’s first standard for companies in land-intensive sectors to set science-based targets that include land-based emissions reductions and removals.
The SBTi FLAG Guidance offers a common, robust, science-based understanding on how much and how quickly a company needs to cut its land-related emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Key requirements of the SBTi FLAG Guidance
- Set near-term FLAG science-based targets: 5-10 year emission reduction targets in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
- Account for removals in near-term FLAG science-based targets: GHG removals include things like improving forest management practices, and enhancing soil carbon sequestration on working lands. Read more on how the FLAG pathways address carbon removals here.
- Set long-term FLAG science-based targets: Companies in the forest, land and agriculture sectors will reduce at least 72% of emissions by no later than 2050. They should use the SBTi Net-Zero Standard to set long-term FLAG science-based targets.
- Zero deforestation targets must be set for no later than 2025: In line with the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi). Read more on how this guidance accounts for land-use change emissions here.
- Set science-based targets for fossil emissions: Businesses with land-based emissions are required to set FLAG science-based targets AND science-based targets, since all companies produce fossil emissions.
WATCH: Introducing the FLAG guidance - Martha Stevenson
In January and February 2022, the SBTi held a month-long public consultation for external stakeholders and experts in the AFOLU sectors to provide feedback on the SBTi FLAG Guidance. We saw over 1,600 comments from more than 165 organizations.
Acknowledging the comments received, and to ensure we had a clear and robust methodology for companies within the food, agriculture and forest sectors to account and set science-based targets for land-based emission reductions and removals, we carried out an in-depth review of the guidance.
We are currently developing resources to guide companies throughout the FLAG target setting process, including the target submission form updated for companies to submit information on FLAG and non-FLAG emissions. They will help companies be ready to submit FLAG targets for validation once the SBTi is prepared to accept these submissions. These resources will be released in late Q1 2023.
The SBTi will be accepting FLAG target submissions soon.
The SBTi, with support from WWF, developed the SBTi FLAG Project to address an important methodology gap. This effort was focused on the development of methods and guidance to enable companies within the food, agriculture, and forest sectors to set science-based targets that include land-related emissions and removals.
The SBTi convened technical experts on the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, as well as a corporate consultative group that provided expert advice and direction throughout the development of this project to ensure the criteria and guidance are robust, clear, and practical.
The FLAG Consultative Group consisted of the following:
- AB InBev
- General Mills
- International Paper
- RCL Foods
Funding for this project was provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.
Resources for setting FLAG science-based targets
- An overview of the FLAG Guidance
- Download the SBTi FLAG Guidance
- Download the SBTi FLAG Target Setting Tool
- Download the FLAG Methods Addendum
- Download the FLAG Getting Started Guide
- Watch the FLAG target setting process webinar and download the slides
- Regional webinars on setting FLAG science-based targets
FLAG Guidance launch
Public consultation resources
- Read the summary of the SBTi FLAG Guidance public consultation feedback
- Watch the FLAG guidance consultation webinar
- View the FLAG guidance consultation webinar slides
FLAG project kick-off resources
Commit to set FLAG science-based targets now.
The next few years are critical in the fight against climate change. The SBTi FLAG Guidance gives companies the opportunity to cut emissions and enhance sinks at the pace required to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach.
Take the lead and commit to setting FLAG science-based targets today.
Join the FLAG mailing list for updates and be the first to know when the SBTi opens the booking system for companies to submit FLAG science-based targets for approval.
The project was completed in September 2022.
Browse more sector guidance
If your sector is not listed here, you can still set a science-based target using our methods and resources. Consult the step-by-step guide to get started.