Greenhouse Gases: Science-Based Targets Advance

May 11, 2018
More than 100 companies now use them for emissions reduction

Earth Day — April 22nd — marked the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, notes the Earth Day Network, So, it was fitting that at nearly the same time the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), announced that it had passed a major milestone. More than 100 corporations worldwide now are using targets that have been approved by the group’s team of experts for emissions reductions that align with the goals of the Paris Accord. (For more on the Paris Accord, see: “Look Beyond the Paris Accord Pullout.”) These targets are called science-based because they reflect the level of decarbonization necessary to hold global temperature increase below 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures.


“Today’s news shows that science-based targets are fast becoming the new normal for businesses looking to gain a competitive advantage in the transition to a low-carbon economy. It demonstrates that companies from diverse sectors worldwide are ready to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement and recognize the strong business imperative to do so,” noted Lila Karbassi of the United Nations Global Compact, a partner in the SBTi. “…Their action sends a strong signal to governments around the world that they can be confident in raising their own ambition,” she added.

The companies now using approved science-based targets come from 23 countries. More than half of these firms (57) are based in continental Europe, including AB InBev, Givaudan and Nestlé. However, the U.S. boasts the most, with 24 — including Biogen, Colgate Palmolive, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble. Next come Japan with 15 (including Daiichi Sankyo) and the U.K. with 11 (including AstraZeneca and Unilever).

Among the latest companies with approved targets are Electrolux, L’Oréal and Mahindra Sanyo Special Steel, which has become the first Indian company as well as the first steelmaker to have its science-based target approved.

In addition to adopting science-based targets for their own operations, nearly nine in ten (88%) of these firms have approved targets that span their entire value chain (so-called “Scope 3” emissions), says the SBTi.

The group also notes that more than 270 additional companies have committed to the initiative and now are preparing targets for submission. These include a number of chemical makers including AkzoNobel and Sumitomo Chemical. (Here is a full listing of companies worldwide that have targets set or are working on them.) The SBTi expects hundreds more firms to follow. Indeed, SBTi partner CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) reports that more than 850 companies providing climate disclosures in 2017 declared their aim to set science-based targets within two years.

The SBTi is a joint project of CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature and is run in collaboration with the We Mean Business Coalition.

MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can email him at [email protected]

About the Author

Mark Rosenzweig | Former Editor-in-Chief

Mark Rosenzweig is Chemical Processing's former editor-in-chief. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' magazine Chemical Engineering Progress. Before that, he held a variety of roles, including European editor and managing editor, at Chemical Engineering. He has received a prestigious Neal award from American Business Media. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union. His collection of typewriters now exceeds 100, and he has driven a 1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk for more than 40 years.

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