Science-based targets provide companies with a clearly defined pathway to sustainable growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

What is a Science Based Target (SBT)?

Targets adopted by companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Adopting science-based targets is highly encouraged by reporting institutions including CDP and the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

This figure shows the global carbon emissions associated with the RCP 8.5 (red line) and RCP 2.6 (blue line) IPCC concentration pathways and indicates the corresponding temperature projections. RCP 2.6 is the emissions pathway used with SBT. Source: Global Carbon Project

Overview of the General SBT Requirements

  • Select a base year and a target year.

    • Cover a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 15 years from the date the target is publicly announced

    • Long-term targets (greater than 15 years) with interim targets set at every 5 years are encouraged

  • Develop a GHG inventory

  • Scopes 1 and 2

    • Boundaries are aligned with the GHG inventory

    • Follow the 2 degrees C decarbonization pathway

    • Cover at least 95% of company-wide scope 1 and 2 emissions

  • Scope 3

    • Required if scope 3 emissions comprise 40% or more of an organization’s total emissions

    • Boundaries are aligned with the GHG inventory and include the majority of value chain emissions

    • Target does not need to be science-based, but must be ambitious and measurable and integrate current best practices

  • SBTs exclude offsets and avoided emissions

How can we help?

The IERS team offers strategic quantification and advisory services to companies seeking to develop a science-based target. We will work with you to develop targets that align with the Science Based Target Initiative guidelines.