Science-based targets 101: Get a head start on target setting

14 May 2018
Rachel Depree, Manager, Climate

Rachel Depree, SBC Manager, Climate

Science-based targets sound like the antipathy of inspiration. They conjure up images of a project straight out of a high school text book. And what a lot of inspiration we need right now as we contemplate and plan a 30-year pathway to a low emissions economy, seemingly littered with hurdles, costs and black holes of unknown.

Luckily, not everyone sees just cost and hurdles. In fact many of SBC’s member businesses see opportunity and are taking action.

Here at SBC, we noticed in early 2017 that our member businesses were setting emissions reduction targets to 2030, 2040 and even 2050. And then using these targets to build their action plans over much longer time-frames too.

Auckland Airport is one such company. Their approach was to work out what target to set, so they could be confident about taking their fair share of the emissions reductions needed to keep our planet well below 2°C of warming by 2050. This process is called setting a science-based target.

The ‘science’ is the pathways laid out by the UN body called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who defines the emissions allowances ‘or budgets’ the world needs to keep global warming within a 2°C temperature increase.

Another early mover is Contact Energy, who have described how the process of setting a science-based target has built belief, created alignment and kicked-off plans across all levels of the business.

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.

The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), is a partnership between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the UN Global Compact (UNGC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) and offers a pathway, tools and advice for businesses from all sectors.

The growing interest in science-based emissions targets across New Zealand business is quite phenomenal. Almost 200 people came along to the recent introductory session, convened by SBC, WWF and Enviro-Mark Solutions.

We’re now running more in-depth workshops to help companies prepare for setting a science-based target, learn more about methods for target setting, understand what an emissions reduction plan looks like and to share case studies and ask questions.

We’d love you to join us on 23 May and 20 June – you can find out more and sign up here.