Setting Science-based Targets
Some principles for Science-Based Target setting by John Sterman, Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management and Faculty Co-Director, MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative
For the extended version of the SHIFT Science-Based Target curriculum, see: SHIFT SCIENCE-BASED TARGET CURRICULUM
1) Understand what a Science-Based Target (SBT) is and why it is important
Over 300 companies have committed to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets that are in line with climate science and over 70 have already set these targets. A transition to a low carbon economy is critical to future proof against the impacts of climate change. The first step to setting a science-based target is to understand how it differs from traditional targets and what the business case is for taking this approach.
2) Get internal buy-in
Goal setting and public disclosure of GHG targets, particularly the ambitious targets that may be created through an SBT approach, can be difficult for companies that are new to the process. Therefore, it is important to gain internal buy-in early and often throughout the target setting process.
Business Case Resources
Resources that will help you make the case for why your organization should get behind a particular initiative.
3) Understand the SBT method basics
All SBT methods consist of a carbon budget, an emissions scenario, and an allocation approach. It is important to understand these basic SBT components and how they work before selecting a specific method.
4) Gather the data
For an SBT method to “work”, certain data inputs are required that result in the method’s output. The data needed varies by SBT methodology. Determine how you will gather this relevant data for your company, and to what extent it is even available, before you select an SBT method.
5) Select an SBT method
There are several SBT methods you can use to set an SBT. The SBT Initiative provides useful guidance on how to choose which method to use, based on parameters such as the type data you have available for model inputs, the type of target you want to set, and the sector your company is in. You may need to use more than one method in order to set targets for different scopes.
6) Set the target
After choosing a method several steps must be employed to produce the emissions reduction target. Many of these steps are based in the processes described in the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard.
7) Validate your target
Setting an SBT can be complicated as there are many steps to follow from gathering the data, to choosing the method, to interpreting the method output. To ensure that your target is scientifically valid, get your work reviewed by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi).
8) Communicate your target
The next step in the SBT process is communicating your target effectively.
9) Implement your target
The last step in the SBT process is to implement your target. There are many options to implement an SBT target, some of which may be specific to your sector. Generally, measures fall into the following categories: energy efficiency measures, renewable and low-carbon energy use; biological sequestration; and Scope 3 measures.
10) Iterate and Improve
Once steps have been implemented to meet your target, iterate and continuously improve your performance towards meeting the targets. Evaluate progress towards the targets, and identify opportunities for greater ambition – that is, faster, deeper cuts in your organization’s total emissions.