Spotlight on: The SBTi Net-Zero Standard
5th January 2022
In our latest ‘Spotlight on’ article as part of the Climate Action Programme, Rosie Williams, a proud Bristolian who works at the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), gives an overview of the SBTi Net-Zero Standard, the first science-based standard for setting net-zero targets and explains why this is so important.
In October 2021, the SBTi launched the first science-based framework for companies to set net-zero targets – the Net-Zero Standard. This standard defines what is needed for a net-zero target to align with the latest climate science and keep global warming to within 1.5°C.
Why is this important?
Over the last couple of years, we have seen net-zero become the gold star of climate ambition, with a huge number of organisations and institutions pledging to becoming net-zero. But many of these pledges have lacked integrity and rigour to accelerate urgent decarbonisation required.
With no consistent definition of net-zero or what this should mean in real terms, targets have differed in terms of the types of emissions included, the extent and speed of reductions, and the timeframe in which the target is to be achieved. This has allowed some companies to claim to have net-zero targets without the significant reduction in emissions necessary.
The Net-Zero Standard
We have worked with an independent Expert Advisory Group to define how companies can get net-zero right. This will empower organisations to set targets in line with climate science and help ensure pledges lead to the urgent and rapid action that is needed to prevent catastrophic changes to our climate.
In summary, science-based corporate net-zero targets will require:
- Emissions reductions in line with limiting a global temperature increase to 1.5°C before 2050
- Near-term targets and rapid action to reduce emissions over 5-10 years in line with 1.5°C
- Long-term deep decarbonisation of at least 90-100% for most companies across scopes 1, 2 and 3 (see here for a definition of the scopes) before 2050
- A limited dependence on carbon removals to neutralize emissions that cannot yet be eliminated (<10%)
- External verification of corporate net-zero targets and annual progress reporting
We know these asks aren’t easy for companies. But we are not going to achieve the rapid decarbonisation needed without rapid and deep climate action. Some companies are already leading the way, with the first validated SBTi net-zero targets announced in October and many more due to follow.
While the Net-Zero Standard has been designed for larger organisations (500+ employees), SMEs can still use it to understand the key principles of a science-based net-zero target. The SBTi offers a simplified route for SMEs to set science-based targets.
In order to tackle this mammoth global challenge, we need more than just words. We need robust, credible net-zero plans from companies, and our hope is that the Net-Zero Standard will help make this a possibility.
The Partnership’s Climate Action Programme supports organisations of all sizes and sectors to reduce their carbon emissions through free events, resources, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Find out more and get involved.