What is the Science Based Targets initiative?

November 18, 2020

The Science Based Targets initiative advocates setting science-based targets in order to boost companies' competitive advantages in the transition to a low-carbon economy. It is a collaboration between the CDP, the UNGC, the WRI, and the WWF

What is a science-based target?

A science-based target is a goal that provides companies a way of charting a clear pathway to future-proof growth. These targets specify how quickly and by how much companies need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The three main approaches to setting science-based targets are sector-based, absolute-based and economic-based. Assessments include a classification of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. These are classified under three categories: 2°C, well below 2°C and 1.5°C. Currently, the assessments do not include classifications of Scope 3 targets

Why set a science-based target?

At present, we are witnessing a global transition to a low-carbon economy and this affects every sector. Setting science-based targets will help achieve this transition and ensure that companies are not left behind. 

Setting ambitious targets in this area will lead to increased innovation. 63% of company executives state that science-based targets are drivers of innovation. Those that set ambitious targets will therefore be leaders of innovation and shaping a new tomorrow.

Taking action through such targets will also decrease regulatory uncertainty. Companies can better anticipate and react to future policies enforced to limit greenhouse gas emissions. 35% of company executives say that implementation of science-based targets has increased resilience to regulations. 

Implementing science-based targets are also proven to strengthen investor confidence and company credibility. Reputation will be bolstered amongst all stakeholders. The initiative has found that 52% of company executives reported a boost in investor confidence because of science-based targets. 

A final advantage of setting science-based targets is that they will improve profitability and competitiveness. Targets could ensure company efficiency and durability looking into the future. 55% of company executives say they have gained competitive advantage from science-based targets. 

What is the Science Based Targets initiative? 

The Science Based Targets initiative’s aim is that adoption of science-based targets will become standard business practice by the end of 2020. To achieve this, they offer many resources, workshops and advice on how to reduce barriers to adoption. Science Based Targets also showcase examples of the positive impact on companies of setting targets  through case studies, events and media. They are committed to defining and promoting best practice in setting these targets and asses and approve targets to ensure they will really have a positive impact.