Science-Based Targets

A number of large corporations are leading the way in a bid to tackle climate change, with science-based targets.

What are science based targets?

Science-based targets are ambitious emissions reductions objectives, set out by businesses to specify how much they need to reduce their carbon emissions by, to limit temperature rises through global warming. They are considered a positive way to transition to a low-carbon economy.

This transformative action is a consequence of the Paris agreement in 2015 where 195 of the world’s governments committed to prevent climate change. A target was set, limiting global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, to a level of warming of 1.5°C.

The targets set for businesses to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions to meet this target, are referred to as ‘science-based’ if they are in-line with this temperature goal.

A united initiative

An initiative for this was set up by CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). It focuses on companies that have set science-based targets to highlight the positive effects such as increased innovation, strengthened investor confidence and improved profitability.

In addition, the initiative:

  1. Defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting via the support of a Technical Advisory Group.
  2. Offers resources, workshops and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption.
  3. Independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.

What are the benefits of setting science-based targets?

There are many benefits to setting science-based targets. As well as saving the planet it;

  • Illustrates excellent CSR – for large corporates there is almost a responsibility to take action against climate change, science-based targets are a way to do this.
  • Delivers a competitive advantage – helps your business to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  • The whole company can be involved – you can engage both internal and external stakeholders to help your business achieve or even exceed your targets.
  • Provides Investor confidence – 52% of execs have seen investor confidence boosted by targets (sciencebasedtargets.org).
  • Increases innovation – 63% of company execs say science based targets drive innovation (sciencebasedtargets.org).

How do you set a science based target?

There are three science-based target (SBT) setting approaches:

  1. In a sector-based approach the global carbon budget is divided by sector and emission reductions allocated to individual companies based on its sector’s budget.
  2. With an absolute-based approach all companies will equally work towards the same percent reduction in absolute emissions.
  3. Economic-based approach – A carbon budget is equated to global GDP and a company’s share of emissions is determined by its gross profit, since the sum of all companies’ gross profits worldwide equate to global GDP.

How do businesses get involved?

For a business to get involved in the initiative there is a simple 4 step process to follow:

  1. Submit a letter to say you are committed to the scheme.
  2. Develop your own science-based target within 24 months.
  3. Submit your target for validation.
  4. Announce your target.

838 companies are currently taking science-based climate action and 343 companies have approved science-based targets.

How EIC can help

We can help you create science-based targets as part of a Carbon Management Plan that can also incorporate Net Zero goals. We’re already partnering with leading UK private and public sector organisations supporting them to transform their operations in line with ambitious targets that will help to save the planet and future-proof their business.

EIC can assist in meeting your science based targets by:

  • Establishing your carbon footprint to act as your baseline
  • Provide recommendations to reduce your carbon impact
  • Set your target to reduce your carbon footprint to meet the 5°C objective
  • Create an ongoing Carbon Management Plan
  • Create and publish all documentation required for the scheme
  • Work with you to embed the strategy into your business
  • Assist you with carbon offset strategies

We can also provide marketing packages for use both internally and externally, to assist with CSR around your targets.

Time to focus on SECR compliance

The ESOS deadline has now passed and it’s time to focus on a new compliance scheme.

SECR, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting, was introduced in April 2019 as a framework for energy and carbon reporting. Its aim is to reduce some of the administrative burden of overlapping carbon schemes and to improve visibility of energy and carbon emissions for large UK organisations. Given the timing of its introduction, SECR could also help businesses on their first steps to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target. Companies in scope of the legislation will need to include their energy use and carbon emissions in their Directors’ Report as part of their annual filing obligations they will also need to report any energy efficiency actions they have taken within each financial year.

We believe it’s time to focus on SECR. The good news is, if your business complies with ESOS, you’re in a much stronger position as you may have much of the data you require already to hand.

Who needs to comply with SECR?

The scheme affects UK quoted companies and ‘large’ unquoted companies and LLPs. These are defined as those meeting at least two of the following; 250 employees or more, annual turnover of £36m or more or an annual balance sheet of £18m or more.

What the scheme requires

For SECR, companies are required to report the following:

  • Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) energy and carbon emissions (electricity, gas and transport as a minimum).
  • Previous year’s figures for energy and carbon. At least one intensity ratio (e.g. tCO2/turnover).
  • Detail of energy efficiency action taken within the reporting year.
  • Reporting methodology applied.

When will you need to comply?

Compliance will be based on your financial reporting year. Therefore, if your financial year is 1st April – 31st March, your first energy and carbon disclosure data collection will be for the period covering 1st April 2019 – 31st March 2020. This must be submitted in your Director’s Report after March 2020.

Take a look at our chart to see when your SECR deadline will be.

What happens if I don’t comply?

Whilst there are no fixed penalties specified, as there are in ESOS, there are still consequences for non-compliance. Not meeting the reporting requirements of SECR can result in accounts not being signed off. Missing the filing deadline could lead to a civil penalty. So it’s important for organisations to fully align communications between their energy and finance teams and to get a head start where possible.

Save time and hassle

There are similarities with SECR and ESOS when it comes to required data for each scheme, this can be used to your advantage. We offer a combined ESOS and SECR compliance package for businesses at a discounted rate. If you’d like more information on this or any of our services, call +44 1527 511 757 or email us.