Science-based targets initiative passes 150 companies milestone

Ice cream brand Ben and Jerry's and Japanese car manufacturer Toyota are among a wave of 41 big businesses that have joined the Science-Based Targets initiative, which calls on corporations to cut their carbon footprints in line with a 2C global warming limit.

The companies are now part of a list of 155 businesses including Coca-Cola, Sony and the Kellogg Company that have committed to the science-based targets initiative – a partnership partnership between CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF, which helps corporations determine how much they must cut emissions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

The initative was forged at the Paris climate change agreement last December, after growing concerns that businesses could set timelines and targets of their own choosing.

The WRI’s Cynthia Cummis said: “The enthusiasm companies have shown to setting ambitious climate targets is very encouraging. Our technical reviewers cannot keep up with the number of targets being submitted. This is a great problem to have and a clear indication that the Paris Agreement was a turning point for climate action.”

Carbon savings

The initiative aims for science-based target setting to become standard business practice, with corporations playing a major role in closing the emissions gap left by country commitments by 2018. In order to achieve the ambitious 2C global warming goal set out in Paris, the scheme will develop communication tools and guidance to make science-based target setting more accessible for sustainability professionals and other stakeholders.

To date, 13 of the 155 companies have had their targets independently approved and are collectively expected to save an estimated 874 million tonnes of C02 over their lifetime. One of these corporations – Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company – is aiming to halve the emissions from manufacturing each litre of soft drink between 2010 and 2020.

Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company environment manager Galya Tsonkova said: “In the past, companies would set targets without the necessary information or a solid point of reference. They would just pick a round figure and aim for cuts of 20, 30, 40 percent, with no further justification, other than generic aspirations.

“Now, we have a target that is approved by external, credible experts, verified through relevant scientific methodology. That makes a big difference, both for external stakeholders, as well as to our management.”

Corporate responsibility

The growing success of the Science-Based Targets Initiative is a significant step to lifting corporate ambition and helping businesses pursue bolder solutions to climate change in the backdrop of the Paris Agreement signed in New York last month.

Several high-profile companies have displayed good progress in their efforts to take a science-based approach to tackling climate change in recent months. Towards the end of last year, telecommunications giant BT – which has adopted a science-based approach to target-setting – secured top spot in a report of the carbon reporting performance of the top 100 companies floated on the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE 100). 

George Ogleby

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