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The goals set in the Science Based Targets initiative require continuous monitoring

Saara Airaksinen

Saara Airaksinen


The international Science Based Targets initiative helps companies set clear and science-based climate goals that also need to be monitored annually.

More and more companies have voluntarily set science-based emission reduction targets aiming to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

In this effort, for instance, the Science Based Targets initiative, which was created to support the setting of science-based climate goals, assists companies. Next, we’ll explain in more detail what the initiative is about.

What is Science Based Targets?

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is:

  • An initiative encouraging companies to commit to climate targets and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions so that the Earth’s temperature does not rise by more than 1.5 degrees.
  • Founded by the UN’s Global Compact, CDP, the World Resources Institute, and WWF.
  • Established in 2015.

SBTi has secured its position in defining science-based emission reduction targets for businesses. The project sets clear requirements for reductions and encourages companies to implement them in the near future. To join the initiative, companies must set both short and long-term goals that the SBTi approves.

Companies must set climate goals for 5-10 years that include emission reductions consistent with a 1.5 or well-below 2-degree goal. In the long term, the aim is for net-zero, which means reducing emissions by over 90% by 2050. Progress at different stages is reported to the SBTi to monitor their implementation.

In the SBTi project, business emissions are calculated according to the GHG protocol. Thus, the measurement methods are the same for all companies, making it possible to compare emissions between companies. The targets must also comply with SBTi’s criteria to meet the definition of science-based.

More and more retailers around Europe have already committed to SBTi’s goals:

  • Kesko in Finland aims to reduce its emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 90% by 2030, compared to the 2020 baseline. The company also commits to setting science-based emission reduction targets for 67% of its goods and service providers’ emissions, i.e., Scope 3 emissions.
  • Tesco from United Kingdom is committed to become a net-zero carbon business by 2050. Over 90% of Tesco’s total emissions come from its products and supply chain which is why they work closely with suppliers to cut the emissions.
  • Carrefour (France) has set goals to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2030 from a 2019 baseline. They’ve also set a goal that 600 suppliers is involved in their ‘Food Transition Pact’ program by 2026.

How to set Science Based Targets?

The process of setting a Science Based Target begins when a company commits to the initiative and is added to the SBTi’s list. After that, science-based climate targets must be developed and set within 24 months.

Emission targets are based on a baseline calculation. The calculation is made using the GHG protocol, always including at least Scope 1 emissions, i.e., direct emissions from one’s own operations, and Scope 2 emissions, i.e., emissions from procured energy production. Scope 3 emissions, for instance, subcontractor emissions, must also be taken into account if they exceed 40% of the company’s total emissions.

SBTi reviews the targets of all companies before admitting them to the project.

Annual reporting is required for development

Simply setting goals is not enough to make a company’s operations low-emission; it is a long-term development process. SBTi has also launched proposals for a science-based net-zero target. Achieving net zero also requires setting and monitoring long-term goals.

Science-based climate targets must define their scope, schedule, and target level. Additionally, the SBTi requires companies to report annually on the progress of emission reduction targets. The target level also needs to be reviewed at least once every five years.

A company’s operations change annually, and monitoring development is essential to timely and correctly guide climate actions. Monitoring the progress and achievement of goals requires systematicity and effective reporting tools.

Biocode’s carbon footprint calculator facilitates the annual monitoring and supply chain emission management. The digital reporting concept makes data collection and reporting cost-effective. Digital data is also easy to update annually.

Do you need an easy and clear tool to navigate the reporting jungle? Try Biocode’s carbon footprint calculator for two weeks free of charge here.

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