Companies that pursue sustainability are quickly committing to the Science Based Targets Initiative. What is it, exactly? A joint initiative by CDP, the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the Science Based Targets Initiative aims to boost corporate action on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It creates an expectation that companies will set targets aligned with the level of decarbonization determined by science to be necessary in order to limit the increase in global average temperature from pre-industrial times to below 2°C.

Science Based Targets

Companies continue to adopt GHG emissions reduction targets to secure their long-term sustainability and profitability. As climate change remains an issue, more than 80 percent of the world’s 500 largest corporations set emissions reduction or energy-specific targets in the 2014-2015 financial year, according to CDP. This shows that the business community is devoted to avoiding the negative consequences of climate change.

The Science Based Targets Initiative has ambitious and long-term goals. As of June 17, 2016, 163 (and counting!) companies have already committed to setting their emissions according to guidelines set by the initiative. Smart business leaders are aware of the benefits of taking determined climate action, which is why the movement continues to grow.

Following are some of the top organizations that have committed to Science Based Targets:

  • Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. pledged to cut total GHG emissions from their core business operations 50% by 2020, using a 2007 base-year.
  • Dell Inc. will lessen GHG emissions from their facilities and operations by 50% by 2020, using a 2010 base-year. Dell also committed to decrease the energy intensity of their product portfolio 80% by 2020, using 2011 as base-year.
  • Proctor & Gamble promised an emissions reduction of 30% from 2010 levels in its operations by 2020.
  • Kellogg Company committed to a 15% reduction in emissions intensity by 2020 from a 2015 base-year.
  • Sony dedicated to cut GHG emissions from its operation by 42% below fiscal year 2000 levels by 2020.

Scientific consensus suggests that in order to limit global warming to 2°C and prevent irreversible climate change, global GHG emissions must be cut by up to 70%. Even as 80% of the world’s 500 largest companies have committed that they have an emission reduction target, it might still not be enough to meet this goal.

It is possible that companies that have not yet adopted science based targets are withholding their support out of fear that sustainability measures are bad for business. These fears are misguided, as implementing science based emissions reductions in business operations can help spur innovation and ensure long-term competitive advantage. Adopting science based targets can produce the innovations necessary to transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. Such innovations will help organizations reformulate their bottom line by creating new business models and sources of value.


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