The Science Based Targets Initiative, or SBTi, launched the world’s first corporate standard for net-zero emissions on Thursday. What does it mean for corporate leaders that already have targets set?
First of all, it means a 50 percent reduction of emissions by 2030 is a nice goal (to which many fashion and beauty companies have aligned) but more “rapid action,” per SBTi, is needed.
“They’re meaningless. [2050 emissions reduction targets are] meaningless if we don’t act this decade,” Doreen Stabinsky, professor of global environmental politics at the College of the Atlantic, said during an SBTi webinar held Thursday, coinciding with the launch of the global net-zero standard.
SBTi is part of the World Resource Institute’s Center for Sustainable Business and a collaborator of the UN Global Compact. Already, more than 600 companies (among them Etsy, Inditex and Ikea) have set targets through the SBTi’s Business Ambition for 1.5C campaign.
The new net-zero standard could further constrict greenwashing in the space with its full coverage, near-term targets spanning the next five to 10 years and more ambitious 2050 targets. The new net-zero standard requires a decarbonization pathway of 90 percent to 95 percent before 2050 and for emissions to be halved far “before 2030.”
Mentioning the recent greater frequency of extreme weather events, Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, emphasized: “We are also rapidly approaching critical tipping points….There is only one pathway forward, that involves rapid and deep emission cuts and, additionally, investment in nature-based solutions — which are absolutely fundamental.”
From there, offsets and carbon removal tools were deemed satisfactory to reach full neutrality. That being said, SBTi said these tools cannot exceed 5 percent to 10 percent of a company’s emissions, depending on the sector.
While the validation process will officially launch next year, several companies, among them AstraZeneca, CVS Health, Dentsu International, JLL, Holcim, Wipro and Ørsted have all had their targets validated as part of the pilot phase.
“CVS Health is proud to be one of the first companies in the world to have our net-zero targets validated by the SBTi’s net-zero methodology,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, chief sustainability officer for CVS Health. “We’re focused on taking bold, climate action to help improve the health and well-being of our communities and finding innovative solutions to further mitigate our impact on the environment. By 2030, we will reduce our environmental impact by more than 50 percent and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”
Along with contributors, SBTi is looking to develop a similar blueprint for the financial industry, set for November 2021.