We received a letter from the Science Based Target initiative, notifying us that as of later this year, all official science based targets will have to be aligned with a 1.5°C pathway. Fortunately, the letter also confirmed that our existing target are approved by the Science Based Targets initiative as consistent with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The targets covering greenhouse gas emissions from EDGE’s operations (scopes 1 and 2) are consistent with reductions required to keep warming to 1.5°C, what the latest climate science has told us is needed to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change.
But what does it mean for our clients? Obviously the requirements vary across sectors, but as a rule of thumb a target consistent with 1.5 degrees means a reduction of at least 4.2% in Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions per year to 2030 or before. In some sectors – most notably property – that’s reasonably consistent with or even less ambitious than leading companies are already aiming for. For others, particularly primary industries, it represents a significant challenge that will require considerable innovation in business models.
But Science Based Targets also cover Scope 3. How does that fit in? Up to now required Scope 3 emissions reductions under the SBT initiative have tended to be quite loosely defined, with the main stipulation being that they are “ambitious”. The SBTi are currently looking to more clearly define what that means in the context of a 1.5 degree pathway, but one thing that’s clear is that it’s going to become an even bigger focus (“doubly ambitious?”).
Historically, approximately 1/3 of all rejected SBTs have fallen down due to issues with their Scope 3 quantification and target setting. As such, continuing momentum for the whole idea of SBTs will require careful thought from both the SBTI and from companies seeking to set target, as well as from consultants like us who work with them. Fortunately, there’s nothing we love more than some gritty Scope 3 analysis. Bring it on!