The global scientific community is largely in agreement that we need to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by mid-century if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C and reduce the harmful impacts of climate change on the environment and society.
In an effort to provide clarity on what it means to reach net-zero emissions at a corporate level, the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) published ten initial recommendations for firms seeking to set and implement robust net-zero targets.
In this article, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions management experts at SINAI explore the SBTi’s ten recommendations. We also outline the three key elements of corporate net-zero target setting. Since 2015, the SBTi has led the way at a global level when it comes to translating climate science into frameworks that allow firms to set ambitious climate targets and allows for independent assessment of those targets based on a set of comprehensive criteria and transparent validation protocols. To learn more about the SBTi, read our recent blog that goes into more detail about the organization.
Key elements in the net-zero targets of corporations
Three distinct corporate net-zero target elements have emerged with the SBTi in operation for over five years.
The three elements include:
- the mitigation strategy that the firm will follow to achieve the target;
- the boundary of the firm’s target; and
- the timeframe to achieve the set target.
Ten recommendations for reaching net-zero with the SBTi
Before considering the STBi’s ten recommendations for achieving net-zero, it’s worth looking at our recent article on how to set a meaningful emissions reduction target to set your firm’s carbon reduction ambitions up for success.
The STBI’s recommendations, which launched last year, will be followed by the development of more detailed guidance, expected to be published shortly:
- Emissions boundary: A firm’s net-zero target should cover all material sources of emissions within its value chain.
- Transparency: Firms should be transparent about sources of emissions included and excluded from its set boundary, their timeframe for achieving net-zero emissions, the amount of abatement and neutralization planned in reaching net-zero GHG emissions, and any interim milestones or targets.
- Abatement of emissions: Firms should aim to eliminate sources of emissions within their value-chain at a pace and scale in line with mitigation pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C. During a firm’s transition to net-zero, compensation and neutralization measures can be used, but not substitute, reducing value chain GHG emissions in line with the latest climate science.
- A clear timeframe: Firms should achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. While earlier targets are supported and encouraged, an ambitious timeframe should not come at the expense of the level of abatement in the set target.
- Accountability: Long-term net-zero targets should be backed up by interim science-based GHG emission reduction targets to steer action within timeframes that align with corporate commitments and investment cycles and ensure consistent GHG emission reductions with Paris commitment-aligned mitigation pathways.
- Neutralization: Reaching net-zero emissions requires neutralizing a firm’s remaining GHG emissions with an equivalent amount of carbon removals. A comprehensive neutralization strategy must include removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it for enough time to thoroughly neutralize any potential impact on the planet.
- Compensation: While achieving a balance between emissions and removals is the end goal of a net-zero journey, firms should consider undertaking efforts to compensate for unabated emissions in the transition to net-zero as a way to advance the global transition to net-zero.
- Mitigation hierarchy: Firms should follow a mitigation hierarchy that emphasizes eliminating sources of emissions within their value chain overcompensation or neutralization measures.
- Environmental and social safeguards: Mitigation strategies should follow robust social and environmental best practices, ensuring the protection and restoration of naturally occurring ecosystems, comprehensive social safeguards, and the protection of biodiverse areas, among others.
- Robustness: Compensation and neutralization measures should: (a) ensure additionality, (b) have measures to assure the permanence of the mitigation outcomes, (c) address leakage, and (d) avoid double-counting.
Tracking corporate GHG emissions with ease
SINAI has built the world’s first comprehensive decarbonization software platform that helps multi-national corporations - the planet’s largest GHG emissions emitters - analyze, measure, price, and reduce their emissions, in addition to providing a way to find the most cost-effective solutions in their efforts to achieve net-zero.
Emissions data is complex at a corporate level. SINAI makes consolidating your firm’s GHG and financial data from various teams, facilities, and your entire value chain straightforward. The key to accurate GHG tracking comes down to collaboration across teams and departments made simple, which SINAI provides for your firm.
Reach out for a demo of the software and see for yourself what SINAI’s software solution can do for your firm. We have tools available for every stage of your firm’s decarbonization journey. Contact us today.