Science-based Targets (SBTs) are reduction targets for relevant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are calculated on a scientific basis. Companies which aim to participate in the initiative are expected to set an ambitious target for reducing their GHG emissions which is in line with the 1,5°C or well-below 2°C target of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
They can become active by first signing the so-called “commitment letter” where the company declares to set a SBT and to reduce its emissions in the future. Within two years after signing this commitment, the company develops a suitable target and completes a kind of questionnaire related to general and specific data (e.g., declaration of the Science Based Target, disclosure of scope emissions, etc.). The declared data is then validated and verified for consistency by the Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTI). Finally, if the company specific SBT meets the defined criteria, the relevant figures and data are required to be published.
But setting SBTs is not always an easy task, and many corporations fail at this hurdle.
Facing Difficulties when setting Science-based Targets
The basis for a SBT is the calculation of a Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF). But many companies have difficulties in calculating their emissions and especially Scope 3 up- and downstream emissions present a complex task. According to published case studies of the SBTI, many companies, e.g., from the energy sector, claim that the full mapping of scope 3 emissions presented a hurdle to them.
Also, missing commitment of the management and/or employees increases difficulties. Without sufficient support of the management, changes are hard to implement, and many negotiations must take place. But it is also important to gain support by employees which, in some cases, also presents an obstacle. As in the case for the energy industry, if employees are directly implicated by changes which would reduce the overall emissions of the company, such as shutdowns of coal-fired power stations, their backing is missing. In such situations, it is crucial to well-communicate and guarantee an effective transition.
Moreover, the SBTI only delivers targets but the companies themselves have to set up complementary measures and introduce their implementation. Likewise, corporations often lack expertise and therefore tend to choose non-suitable future emissions scenarios. Such a scenario setting not only includes a hypothetical pathway which describes the necessary emission reductions to reach the target, but also takes economic performance projections, socio-economic and political circumstances into consideration. In addition, new targets and guidance are regularly published by the SBTI which sometimes demands re-adaptations of the company-specific target.
To address these challenges, holistic and water-proof corporate climate strategies would be helpful since they guide the company´s way to successful climate management. But many organisations are missing the resources and expertise to follow this path.
As the first official SBT Partner of CDP in the DACH region, DFGE already supports numerous companies from DAX, MDAX to SMEs in the calculation, analysis, and introduction of SBTs. We help you to choose the right strategies and decide which factors should be included in your calculations: we are happy to help with an objective that is oriented to your needs. For more information on the Science-based Targets and Climate Strategy take a look at the DFGE solutions. If you have further questions, please contact us via or by phone at +49 8192-99733-20.