Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series if you missed it!

What are some methods for setting science-based targets?

In order to determine the appropriate level of ambition and set a target that aligns with the <2°C temperature increase goal, companies are encouraged to use one of the many methods recommended by the Science Based Targets Initiative:

The Sectoral Decarbonization Approach: This approach, developed by CDP, WRI and WWF, is based on the 2°C goal. This methodology includes input from technical advisors and stakeholders regarding setting corporate emissions reduction targets in line with climate science. The SDA Draft Tool calculates emissions reduction targets based on the relative contribution of the company to the total sector activity and their carbon intensity relative to the sector’s intensity.

  • The 3% Solution: This approach posits that the US corporate sector needs to cut carbon emissions by 3% annually. Using the Carbon Target Profit Calculator, companies can calculate sector-specific targets to contribute to this 3% reduction annually within the entire US corporate sector.
  • BT’s CSI: This approach is an intensity target calculated in relation to a company’s “value added” or GDP. The objective is to reduce GHG emissions per GDP by 80% by 2020.
  • C-Fact: This approach asks companies to reduce GHG emissions based on their own relative contribution to the economy, measured by GDP.
  • CSO’s Context-Based Carbon Metric: This approach compares the GHG emissions of organizations to specific targets taken from science-based climate change mitigation and stabilization scenarios (e.g., IPCC RCP 2.6). In addition to being science-based, this approach takes into account organization-specific circumstances, such as changes in size over time.
  • GEVA: This voluntary approach recommends that companies reduce their GHG emissions per unit of GDP by 5% per year.
  • Mars Method: This approach involves reducing absolute emissions by 80% by 2050 (e.g., Mars has committed to eliminating emissions across their direct operations by 2040).

In addition, there are a few tools and calculators that can be used to help companies determine the level of ambition of their target: 

Looking into the future

Today, businesses have the opportunity to set more ambitious, science-based targets and slow global climate change trends through decarbonization. Taking action now will ensure a much smoother transition into the low-carbon economy than continuing a business-as-usual situation. If companies delay their action in setting science-based targets, much deeper reductions in their GHG emissions will be critical in the future to keep the global temperature increase below 2°C. This could be extremely disruptive to business and would be very difficult to achieve at a later time. It is not yet too late to mitigate against climate change and companies can demonstrate corporate leadership by joining the Science Based Targets Initiative in 2016.

ADEC ESG is a leading sustainability solutions provider to organizations and governments around the globe. Our team gives expert advice to help you understand your GHG emissions as the first step towards an effective corporate climate change strategy. For more information, download our white paper, ‘Carbon Accounting Methods for Estimating Scope 3 Emissions.’

Related Articles

By accomplishing and submitting this form, you authorize us to collect and store your personal information, and to use and process them in connection with your application[s]. You also agree to keep your information updated by re-submitting this form or by emailing us here.

You agree to hold us free and harmless for any damage or injury that may arise from the collection, storage, or processing of your personal information. To know more about our Data Privacy Policy, please visit privacy-statement.