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Science-Based Targets: Reducing Carbon Footprint for a Sustainable Future

Science-Based Targets

Science-Based Targets (SBTs) are vital for companies aiming to align with global climate goals and reduce their carbon footprint effectively. These targets, grounded in climate science, ensure businesses operate within the limits of what is necessary to minimize the impacts of global warming. Sector-specific guidance provided by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) helps tailor these goals to the unique characteristics of different industries. Setting and validating SBTs involves a systematic process, ensuring targets are credible and achievable. The benefits of setting SBTs include enhanced reputation, regulatory preparedness, cost savings, innovation, employee engagement, and long-term resilience.

What are Science-Based Targets?

Science-Based Targets (SBTs) are carbon reduction goals set by companies to align their operations with the scientific consensus on limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and ideally, keeping it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. These targets are developed using methods approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which provides a clear pathway for companies to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions. The rationale behind SBTs is to ensure that businesses are operating in a way that contributes positively to climate goals specified in the Paris Agreement. Implementing SBTs involves a multi-step process that includes committing to set science-based targets, developing a target following SBTi criteria, submitting the target for validation, and announcing the target publicly.

Key Aspects of Science-Based Targets:

  • Alignment with Climate Science: SBTs are grounded in climate science, ensuring that corporate GHG reduction efforts are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Adopting SBTs requires companies to be transparent in their carbon reduction strategies. This transparency builds accountability and encourages continuous improvement in sustainability practices.
  • Sector-Specific Guidance: The SBTi provides sector-specific guidance, which is crucial for companies in different industries as it ensures that the targets are feasible and tailored to the unique circumstances of each sector.

Steps to Set Science-Based Targets:

  1. Commit to Set a Target: Companies publicly commit to set a science-based target by signing the SBTi Commitment Letter.
  2. Develop a Target: Based on the SBTi’s criteria and recommendations, companies develop targets that account for their specific emissions profile and reduction potential.
  3. Submit for Validation: Once a target is developed, it is submitted to SBTi for validation to ensure it meets their standards.
  4. Announce the Target: After validation, companies publicly announce their targets and integrate them into their carbon reduction strategies.

Science-Based Targets bridge the gap between corporate sustainability efforts and global climate goals, providing a robust framework for measuring, managing, and reducing GHG emissions. By aligning their objectives with SBTs, companies not only contribute to environmental sustainability but also gain competitive advantages through improved efficiency, risk management, and enhanced reputation. The implementation of SBTs represents a significant step towards a low-carbon economy, reducing the adverse impacts of climate change while fostering innovation and sustainable growth.

Sector-Specific Guidance for SBTs

Sector-specific guidance for Science-Based Targets (SBTs) is a critical component of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) that helps companies in different industries set realistic and achievable carbon reduction goals. These guidelines are tailored to address the unique emission profiles, challenges, and opportunities that each sector faces. By providing industry-specific routes to carbon reduction, sector-specific guidance ensures that targets are both scientifically ambitious and practically feasible. This approach supports companies in various sectors, from manufacturing to financial services, to align with the global efforts to mitigate climate change effectively.

Key Elements of Sector-Specific Guidance:

  • Customized Reduction Pathways: SBTi’s sector-specific guidance offers customized pathways for emission reductions that consider the distinctive characteristics and capabilities of each industry. This ensures that targets are not one-size-fits-all but are adapted to the intricacies of different sectors.
  • Benchmarking and Metrics: The guidance provides benchmarks and metrics that are relevant to specific industries. This allows companies to measure their progress accurately and compare their performance with other businesses in the same sector.
  • Best Practices: It includes best practices and case studies from companies that have successfully implemented science-based targets within their industry. These examples serve as a valuable resource for other businesses to understand practical implementation strategies.

Steps for Implementing Sector-Specific Guidance:

  1. Understanding Sectoral Requirements: Companies start by familiarizing themselves with the sector-specific requirements provided by SBTi. This includes detailed analysis of emission sources, reduction potentials, and specific guidelines relevant to their sector.
  2. Developing Targets: Based on the sector-specific pathways, companies develop their targets. This involves identifying key areas for emission reductions and setting milestones that are aligned with the overall sectoral decarbonization trajectory.
  3. Validation and Peer Review: After developing the targets, companies submit them for validation. Engaging in peer reviews and consultations within their industry can provide additional insights and validation for the targets.
  4. Implementation and Monitoring: Once validated, companies implement the targets and continuously monitor their progress. Sector-specific metrics and benchmarks help in assessing the effectiveness of the strategies deployed.

Sector-specific guidance bridges the gap between high-level climate goals and actionable business strategies, ensuring that companies do not have to navigate the complexities of emission reductions alone. By considering the unique contexts and capabilities of different industries, it fosters more meaningful and impactful contributions to global carbon reduction efforts. Moreover, it promotes a collaborative approach, where companies within the same sector can learn from each other’s successes and challenges. Embracing sector-specific guidance enables companies to set and achieve science-based targets that drive significant climate action while maintaining competitive and sustainable growth.

How to Set and Validate Science-Based Targets

Setting and validating Science-Based Targets (SBTs) is a systematic process that enables companies to define and commit to emissions reduction goals that are in line with the latest climate science. This method ensures that the targets are robust, credible, and align with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The process involves several key steps, starting from commitment to public announcement and ongoing evaluation. By adhering to these steps, companies ensure their targets are not only ambitious but also achievable and scientifically accurate.

Steps to Set Science-Based Targets:

  1. Commit: Companies begin by committing to set a science-based target. This involves signing a commitment letter with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to formally express their intention.
  2. Develop: The next step involves developing the target. Companies must assess their GHG emissions profile using a detailed inventory. They then use SBTi methodologies and tools to model target pathways that align with the 1.5-degree Celsius goal. This often requires considering various scenarios and strategies for emissions reduction, including energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy adoption, and operational changes.
  3. Submit: Once a target is developed, it is submitted to the SBTi for validation. This submission includes comprehensive documentation that outlines how the target was set, the methodologies used, and the planned actions for achieving the target.
  4. Validate: The SBTi then conducts a thorough validation process. This involves reviewing the target against its criteria to ensure it meets the necessary scientific and technical standards. The validation process may require multiple iterations, where the SBTi provides feedback and companies adjust their targets accordingly.
  5. Announce: Upon successful validation, companies announce their targets publicly. This step is crucial for transparency and accountability. It also signals to stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulators, that the company is committed to science-based climate action.

Key Considerations for Successful Target Setting:

  • Alignment with Science: Targets must be in line with the latest climate science and reflect a fair share of the global carbon budget.
  • Feasibility: Companies should ensure that the targets are ambitious yet feasible, considering their operational capabilities and industry context.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Engaging stakeholders throughout the process, from development to implementation, helps in gathering valuable insights and ensuring broad support for the targets.
  • Continuous Improvement: Companies should regularly review and update their targets to reflect new scientific insights, changing business realities, and progress made.

Setting and validating SBTs empowers companies to make significant strides in their sustainability journey. It fosters a culture of accountability and continuous improvement, helping businesses not only contribute to global climate goals but also enhance their resilience, innovation, and competitiveness in a low-carbon future. By following a clear, science-based, and systematic approach, companies can set targets that drive meaningful change and demonstrate leadership in climate action.

Benefits of Setting Science-Based Targets

Setting Science-Based Targets (SBTs) offers numerous benefits for companies, ranging from enhanced corporate reputation to tangible financial gains. These advantages arise from committing to scientifically grounded emission reduction goals, which signal a company’s dedication to sustainability and responsible business practices. By aligning their operations with the rigorous standards set by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), organizations can position themselves as industry leaders in climate action, fostering trust and credibility with stakeholders. Furthermore, SBTs provide a strategic framework that drives innovation, operational efficiencies, and long-term resilience.

Key Benefits of Setting Science-Based Targets:

  • Enhanced Corporate Reputation: Companies that set and achieve SBTs are viewed as proactive and responsible. This positive perception not only attracts environmentally conscious customers but also appeals to investors who prioritize sustainability in their portfolios. By demonstrating a commitment to climate action, companies can differentiate themselves from competitors and strengthen their brand.
  • Regulatory Preparedness: With increasing governmental regulations and policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, companies with SBTs are better prepared to comply with current and future regulatory requirements. This proactive stance reduces regulatory risks and ensures that businesses are ahead of the curve.
  • Operational Efficiency: Implementing SBTs often involves optimizing energy usage, reducing waste, and enhancing overall operational efficiency. These measures can lead to significant cost savings, improved resource management, and increased profitability. By focusing on energy efficiency and sustainable practices, companies can lower their operational costs while reducing their environmental footprint.
  • Innovation and Competitiveness: SBTs encourage companies to innovate and develop new technologies, products, and services that are aligned with a low-carbon future. This innovation can open up new market opportunities and revenue streams, giving companies a competitive edge. Moreover, as consumers and industries increasingly demand sustainable products, companies with SBTs are better positioned to meet these market demands.
  • Employee Engagement and Retention: A commitment to sustainability through SBTs can boost employee morale and engagement. Employees are more likely to feel proud of and loyal to a company that is making a positive impact on the environment. This enhanced engagement can lead to higher productivity, improved job satisfaction, and better employee retention rates.
  • Long-term Resilience: By addressing climate-related risks and setting targets to mitigate their impact, companies can build greater resilience against disruptions caused by climate change. This proactive approach ensures long-term business continuity and stability, enabling companies to adapt to evolving environmental and market conditions.

In conclusion, setting Science-Based Targets offers a strategic advantage for companies, providing a clear path to sustainability while delivering tangible business benefits. From enhancing corporate reputation and regulatory preparedness to driving innovation and operational efficiency, SBTs empower companies to thrive in a rapidly changing world. By committing to science-based climate action, businesses can ensure their growth is sustainable, resilient, and aligned with global efforts to combat climate change.


In conclusion, Science-Based Targets (SBTs) provide a robust framework for companies to align their operations with global climate goals, ensuring a sustainable and resilient future. By following sector-specific guidance, developing and validating targets through a systematic process, businesses can achieve credible and actionable climate commitments. The benefits are extensive, including enhanced corporate reputation, regulatory compliance, operational efficiencies, innovation, and improved employee engagement. Embracing SBTs not only positions companies as leaders in climate action but also delivers tangible financial and strategic advantages, fostering long-term growth and stability in an ever-evolving market landscape.

How we can help

Lythouse empowers companies to achieve their ESG goals through its comprehensive platform. The Carbon Analyzer provides precise measurement and management of Scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emissions using advanced AI and detailed emission factors. The Collaboration Hub enhances data acquisition and stakeholder engagement by organizing tasks and streamlining workflows. The Green Supplier Network fosters collaboration with suppliers, streamlining Scope 3 emissions tracking and ensuring accurate data collection. Additionally, the Goal Navigator helps companies set, track, and achieve sustainability objectives, aligning with global frameworks such as SBTi and UNSDG, driving meaningful sustainable change and operational efficiency.


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