FLAG: SBTi launches new standard for land-based emissions

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has today (28 September) launched new guidance for companies to set targets that account for land-based emission reductions and removals.


FLAG: SBTi launches new standard for land-based emissions

The guidance covers aspects like diet shifts, deforestation and key commodities

With nearly 25% of global emissions accounted for from agriculture, forestry and land use, the SBTi has noted the need to offer some bespoke guidance for relevant sectors.

With support from WWF, the SBTi has developed the Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) Guidance, which will enable companies within those sectors to set science-based targets that include land-based emissions and removals. This includes emissions associated with biomass and soil losses, deforestation and degradation, peatland burning and emissions from land management including fertiliser use and emissions from relevant machinery and manufacturing.

The FLAG guidance will be required for companies that are linked to land-intensive activities across their value chain. This includes forest and paper products, food and drink production and tobacco.

The SBTi also recommends, but won’t enforce, that companies that have more than 20% of revenues coming from FLAG activities or companies with FLAG-related emissions that account for more than 20% of their overall value chain emissions should set new goals.

The framework covers key land-use aspects like deforestation and diet shifts and offers 11 “mitigation pathways” for major commodities. The SBTi has stated that 80% of the mitigation in this area is related to deforestation and that companies that set FLAG targets will be required to publicly commit to zero deforestation no later than 2025.

The SBTi notes that more than 360 companies with land-intensive operations have committed to science-based targets, and 38% are committed to setting net-zero targets.

In order to align with the SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard, companies will be encouraged to develop long-term FLAG targets of a 72% emissions reduction before 2050.

SBTi’s senior advisor Martha Stevenson said: “The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the wood used in the houses where we live and the medicines that heal us are available thanks to the forests, lands and agriculture that sustain us. However, the commercialization of our natural environment is a significant source of emissions and is also the sector most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

“Heat waves and droughts have become more frequent and intense. Storms have gotten stronger and floods more destructive. This is already causing serious damage to ecosystems, threatening food security, human health, businesses and economies around the world — especially in emerging countries. To avoid the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and to build resilience in the most vulnerable communities, cutting land-related emissions must be a priority.”

The current guidance articulates that a science-based FLAG target must cover at least 95% of FLAG-related emissions across Scopes 1 and 2. A FLAG target will also need to cover two-thirds (67%) of Scope 3 emissions.

The SBTi also recommends that FLAG targets cover a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 from the date of the target submission and that companies try to keep the same timeframe targets as non-FLAG goals.

Draft pathways for the initiative were unveiled in 2021 and at the start of the year, the SBTi ran a consultation offering feedback. One of the main requested adjustments was to introduce and develop “regional commodity pathways” and to provide streamlined tools to implement these region-based targets.


edie Explains: Science-based targets

This new report acts as an expanded Explains guide focused on science-based targets and the key considerations and actions that businesses will need to introduce to ensure their net-zero targets are aligned with climate science.

Corporate support for science-based emissions targets has grown exponentially in recent years, with more than 1,200 businesses now having verified their targets voluntarily. However, it is clear that more action is needed. Research suggests that unless all large businesses in the UK draw up and implement plans decarbonise in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory within two years, the nation risks missing its long-term net-zero target.

This new report acts as an expanded Explains guide focused on science-based targets and the key considerations and actions that businesses will need to introduce to ensure their net-zero targets are aligned with climate science.

—–CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE REPORT—-

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