SBTi unveils plans for corporate net-zero emissions standard

17th September 2020


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The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) has announced that it has begun developing the world's first-ever global standard to ensure corporations set credible targets for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Following a consultation with stakeholders from science, business, conservation and finance, the SBTi has also published a new paper, which outlines the conceptual foundations for net-zero targets.

These include what it means for corporates to reach net-zero emissions, analysis of existing target-setting practices, assessment of strategies that are consistent with achieving a net-zero economy, and initial recommendations for science-based goals.

The methodologies discussed in the paper will be translated into detailed guidelines and criteria to be developed by the initiative as part of a continued multi-stakeholder process.

“Net zero by 2050 is our north star, but every second that passes between now and then will determine whether we get there,“ said Alberto Carrillo Pineda, an author of the paper and director of science based targets at CDP.

“There is no time to lose. Alongside long-term ambition we need to see aggressive emissions reductions in line with climate science, now, and across all sectors of the global economy.“

Over 990 companies have committed to set science-based targets consistent with keeping warming to well below 2°C or 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and more than 460 have targets validated by the SBTi.

Its latest paper concludes that:

  • Climate science must inform net-zero strategies in the corporate sector to ensure that the growing momentum behind net-zero translates into action that is consistent with achieving a net-zero world by no later than 2050
  • For a corporate net-zero target to be science-based, it must lead to a depth of decarbonisation consistent with the profound cut in emissions needed in the global economy to limit warming to 1.5°C. It must also neutralise the impact of any sources of residual emissions that cannot be eliminated by permanently removing an equivalent amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Companies may choose to offset their emissions as they transition towards net-zero by purchasing carbon offsets that support projects like mass tree planting.

“However, offsetting emissions does not eliminate the need to reduce emissions in line with science,“ the SBTi said. “This must remain the overarching priority for companies and the central focus of any credible net-zero strategy.“

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