• Austin Zacharko

What are Science Based Targets?

Updated: Oct 11

Targets = Something to aim for.

Science Based = Foundation of Experiments, Thoughts, Verified by leading Experts.


Science Based Target = Something to aim for based on the results of leading experts who performed experiments about the topic.


Well - I guess that's all for this week! - See you on Friday for our Weekly Job Roundup.


JOKES. Don't worry were getting into it a bit more than that!

So you've ever seen the term SBT or SBTi and wondered what that means? Maybe you've heard about organizations report how they're going to reduce emissions by X% - and wonder why they picked those numbers. Or maybe, you're curious what kind of emission reductions we need to be able to keep global warming below the magical 1.5°C mark. If so, strap in, this blog is for you.



What are Science Based Targets?

The Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) is the main guiding force to try and encourage organizations to adopt climate related targets based on science. SBTi is a joint partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).


(Interested in learning more about CDP and other things about ESG? Check out my blog post which discusses CDP here.)


The main goal of SBTi is to get organizations to develop a pathway to set targets to help prevent the worst impacts that climate change may cause to our planet.


Based on SBTi's website "targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C."


Who needs SBTI's?

In the past few years, it seems every company has been releasing their plans to reduce emissions. Often times these targets are focused on reducing emissions by 2030 or 2050. Why those two years? I wouldn't be able to tell you - They just seem to be the popular ones. (Apparently 2040 didn't make the popularity cut)


WE'RE REDUCING EMISSIONS BY 50% by 2030

WE'RE REDUCING EMISSIONS BY 90% by 2050

WE'RE GOING NET ZERO by next week by decommissioning all of our emitting assets - LOL that would be the day.


While these reductions - or promised reductions are great news - they may be too little, too late. At the end of the day, every company that emits greenhouse gases or impacts the environment should consider adopting a science based target setting scheme.


Interested to see which companies have already set Science Based targets? You can see the full list here!


Why is 1.5°C important?

Cool, Cool - we get it. You made emission targets. You're telling everyone about your emission targets like you just got a new car. We appreciate that you're thinking about the environment. Did you make them "science based"? If not, I got some bad news for you. Unfortunately, It doesn't really matter unless it lines up with the science. You see, the thing with climate change is that it's like a see-saw.

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As we slowly roll an imaginary ball closer to the center of a see-saw, the moment it gets past half, the see-saw tilts on its own, and the ball speeds up rolling down the plank. No able to be stopped by anyone as it gains momentum.


As we increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the average temperature of the earth slowly increases due to the greenhouse gas effect. Now just like the ball, as the average temperatures start to get closer to go above 1.5°C, climate change starts tipping the scales. This is the level at which the most devastating impacts of climate change start to occur. At this point, many impacts become irreversible.


This means that while we appreciate your efforts. If you set an emission reduction target that only helps the planet limit global warming to 2°C or maybe 2.5°C, you're not really helping anyone out that much.


Application to help avoid Climate Disaster Denied. Please try again.


Next time you see a company release an emission reduction target - Think to yourself, is this a "science based" target?

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