Science-based targets driving corporate climate commitments to new heights

More than 130 corporates have committed to set science-based emissions reduction targets in line with the 2C trajectory outlined in the Paris Agreement this year, covering one-eighth of total market capitalisation.

New figures from the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) found that corporate commitments surged between January and August 2018. During the nine-month period, 39% more businesses set a science-based target than in the same period of 2017.

Among those to have set an SBTI-approved target so far this year are food and beverage giant Kraft Heinz, fashion brand Levi Strauss and the world’s largest brewer, AB InBev. Global packaging firm Ball Corporation, Japanese motorcycle manufacturer Yamaha and Colorado-based Molson Coors have also had their targets rubbed-stamped.

This surge in corporate commitments means that nearly a fifth (17%) of Fortune Global 500 companies have now committed to set science-based targets, while the combined market capitalisation of all companies to have joined the SBTi now stands at nearly £7.6trn ($10trn).

Overall, 480 companies from 38 countries have committed to set an approved science-based target in line with either a 2C trajectory – or a more ambitious 1.5C trajectory.

Founding SBTi member, Mahindra Group’s chief executive Anand Mahindra, said the trend towards setting science-based targets is gathering pace as the world enters a “pivotal” period for global climate action.

Speaking at the Global Climate Action Summit in California on Thursday (13 September), Mahindra urged all corporates to join the SBTi “immediately”.

“Targets based on science are the only effective way to meet the challenges we face,” Mahindra said. “Around the world, hundreds of businesses are already showing that this is possible with substantial benefits to brand reputation and the bottom line.”

Science-based surge

As global megatrends such as population growth and climate change continue to add pressures to society business operates in, climate challenges have spurred more than 130 companies, including L’OrealIkea and Target, to set SBTI-verified goals aligning to 2C.

Meanwhile, TescoBT and Carlsberg remain the only three corporations to have received verification for more ambitious goals in line with a 1.5C trajectory. 

Among the latest SBTi signatories is Indian cement manufacturer Dalmia Cement Group (DCG). The company joined this week after recently committing to source 100% renewable energy through The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative.

The commitment from DCG comes at a time when the carbon-heavy global cement sector is producing a larger volume of emissions annually than Japan or Canada.

“The global low-carbon transition is underway, and we are gearing up to unlock innovation and create the sustainable business of the future,” DCG’s chief executive Mahendra Singhi said.

Science-based targets provide the roadmap to navigate the transition and ensure we play our part in delivering on the world’s low-carbon goals.”

Sarah George

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