SBTi clarifies that ‘no change has been made’ to its stance on offsetting

16th April 2024

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

Last week, the SBTi – which verifies corporate climate targets – announced that it would be relaxing rules on how companies can use environmental attribute certificates (EACs), including carbon credits, to reduce the emissions they report in their value chains.

This would be subject to basic “rules, thresholds, and guardrails", with companies still required to respect the principles of the mitigation hierarchy.

However, many staff reacted angrily to the announcement, and reportedly wrote a letter to the SBTi Board of Trustees insisting that they were “neither informed nor consulted” on the decision, which had “caused concern, confusion, and damaged the trust of critical stakeholders”.

The SBTi has since published a clarifying statement insisting that “no change has been made to SBTi current standards”, and that “any use of EACs for scope 3 will be informed by evidence.”

“In July, a discussion paper with a draft proposal from SBTi about potential changes to scope 3 will be published which will feed into the standard draft (drafting phase),” the statement adds.

The SBTi has been consulting with stakeholders on new guidance for tackling scope 3 emissions over the last six months, which will form part of its revised Corporate Net-Zero Standard.

In its initial announcement last week, the UN-backed initiative recognised that there is “an ongoing healthy debate” on the subject, but said that “the use of EACs for abatement purposes on scope 3 emissions could function as an additional tool to tackle climate change”.

It also said that it would not validate the quality of carbon credits, insisting that “other entities are better positioned to deal with this activity”.

Yesterday, WWF, which is one of the founders of SBTi, issued its own statement acknowledging the challenges scope 3 emissions present in tackling climate change.

However, it added: “Offsets cannot be a substitute for reducing emissions from company operations, products, and value chains.

“Carbon offsetting needs to be limited in its application to address a small percentage of residual emissions, be bolstered by increased accountability, and pursued as part of a holistic and scientifically defined reduction pathway.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

Further Reading: IEMA - Pathways to Net Zero: Using the IEMA GHG Management Hierarchy - November 2020


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