Through the 2015 Paris Agreement, world governments committed to curbing global temperature rise to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global warming must not exceed 1.5°C to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. To achieve this, GHG emissions must halve by 2030 – and drop to net-zero by 2050. We have limited time for action and the private sector has a crucial role to play – every sector in every market must transform. The World Resources Institute provides an up to date Interactive Chart of Changes in the World's Top 10 Emitters to keep you updated of the global action.
Science-based targets provide a clearly-defined pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth. 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. Setting a science-based target is a powerful tool for helping a company identify opportunities for efficiencies and for managing risk. But more importantly, for harnessing innovation as lower emissions technologies, new products and customer needs offer competitive advantages to those who move at the right time. Yes, it’s a challenge, but there’s no shortage of help with how to do it. There is growing interest in science-based emissions targets and businesses are already cutting emissions at scale and reporting that adopting a science-based target:
Did you know that scope 3 makes up the majority of emissions? In fact, they can account for up to 80%. Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions from your supply chain, such as from the activities of your suppliers and consumers. They include both upstream and downstream emissions. There are a number of benefits associated with measuring Scope 3 emissions. For many companies, the majority of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cost reduction opportunities lie outside their own operations. By measuring Scope 3 emissions, organisations can:
Climate change requires an absolute emissions reduction and this is part of an “climate integrity check” of any science based target. However, companies are mostly setting intensity targets at the point of sales – which do not necessarily guarantee absolute emission reductions, particularly in the short-term. Intensity targets can be aligned with science based targets provided that the consideration of growth expectations still leads to an absolute emission reduction. Absolute emissions targets seem to raise an important psychological barrier in business actors in terms of the “freedom to do business” - even if businesses already operate under all sorts of constraints. On the other hand, for many stakeholders, intensity targets are seen as “potential greenwashing” because they do not guarantee absolute emission reductions, even when the reductions in intensity are very significant and it is extremely unlikely that companies in established businesses would be able to grow their activities in such a way that it would not lead to an absolute emission reduction.