Science Based Target: new resources and stiffer guidelines after the alarm launched by the IPCC

The initiative, Science Based Target (SBT), for sustainable future-proof growth, which specifies how fast and how much its greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced, provides an official and concrete response after the alarm announced in the Report published last October by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on global warming.

The targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are considered "science-based" if in line with the decarbonisation level required to maintain the global temperature rise below 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures, this this is described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and in the Paris Agreement.

However, the dramatic and catastrophic picture illustrated by the IPCC imposes a much higher level of ambition and a more effective and long-term Climate Action.

The SBT initiative, promoted by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the World Resource Institute (WRI) and the WWF, has been constantly committed to supporting and helping companies to align their business strategies with the latest climate sciences and increase their competitive advantage in the transition to a low carbon economy.

For these reasons SBT has published its official response giving an important demonstration: starting from April 2019 SBT will publish new important updates of its guidelines that will align with the latest IPCC Report and the sustainable development goal of the Paris Agreement , or limit the heating to 1.5 ° C or well below 2 ° C.

The important SBT news

The new validation criteria and all SBT updates will be published in April 2019 and will come into force in October. What does this mean for companies that have already set goals and for those who are thinking of creating one in the near future?

The objectives will be accredited only if aligned to 1.5 ° C or well below 2 ° C, SBT has been clear and the objectives will have to continue to remain in line with the most recent climate sciences and, therefore, the current objectives (and future) will be reviewed every 5 years. This will become mandatory from 2025.

The most important news in force since October 2019:

  • The new objectives presented for validation will only be accepted if they are consistent with a limiting heating well below 2 ° C or 1.5 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels. The objectives consistent with the 2 ° C limit heating will no longer be approved.
  • The level of ambition of all existing and new objectives will be published on the SBT website and classified into one of the categories: 1.5 ° C and well below 2 ° C. In April 2019, companies with approved targets will receive notification via email of their current level of target ambition.
  • To ensure that the objectives remain aligned with the most recent climate sciences, it will be necessary to review and, if necessary, revalidate their objectives every five years from the date of approval of the original objective.

The role of companies in achieving Carbon Neutrality

The realization of objectives based on science is a fundamental component of sustainability management practices and essential to achieve carbon neutrality. In fact, over 420 companies have chosen to adhere to the "Science Based Target" initiative, demonstrating that "environmental factors" are undoubtedly one of the most significant trends able to influence sustainable growth in the coming years.

However, only four companies - BT, Carlsberg, Tesco and Pukka Herbs - have set verified targets in line with a 1.5 ° C path to date. This shows how far we still have to do to decarbonise our economies.

"The IPCC special report has been a wake-up call for the global economy - there is an urgent need to intensify the ambition to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement and avoid the devastating effects of global warming" , said WWF world leader for SBT, Alexander Farsan.

"Companies have a vital role to play in achieving this goal and the IPCC has shown the way ahead, and we need to urge companies to raise their own Climate Action," Farsan concluded.

Initiatives such as SBT, which raise awareness of environmental issues related to climate change and the knowledge of new and innovative tools that respond to the challenges of sustainable development, are crucial for the private sector by providing them with a long-term sustainable business model.

Science Based Target: new resources and stiffer guidelines after the alarm launched by the IPCC