Setting Science-based Targets
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 importantOver 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.
Science-Based Target Step by Step Guide
2) Get internal buy-inGoal 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.
Chapter 5 of the Science-Based Target Setting Manual
SHIFT comparison set of tools for making the business case for sustainability
Breaking Through Gridlock book and articles, for the more challenging conversations
3) Understand the SBT method basicsAll 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.
International Energy Agency (IEA) Emissions Scenarios
4) Gather the dataFor 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.
GHG Protocol by WRI & WBCSD
Annex 2 of the Science-Based Target Setting Manual
5) Select an SBT methodThere 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.
Chapter 3 of the SBT Setting Manual
Annex 2 of the SBT Setting Manual
Review of SBT Methods
6) Set the targetAfter 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.
GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard
Chapter 4 of the Science-Based Target Setting Manual
GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance
GHG Protocol Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard
7) Validate your targetSetting 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 targetThe next step in the SBT process is communicating your target effectively.
GHG Protocol Corporate Standard (Chapter 9)
9) Implement your targetThe 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.
US EPA ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management
Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles Resources
Center for Corporate Climate Leadership Supply Chain Guidance