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The World-First Net-Zero Corporate Standard: What You Need to Know


The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has launched the world's first standard for corporate net-zero emissions. The SBTi’s global net-zero framework is the first science-based certification of companies’ net-zero targets in line with the Paris Agreement. Net Zero Standard will provide a robust framework for businesses looking to become certified. Companies aiming to reach Net-Zero Standard will need to set both near and long-term science-based targets across their value chains, meaning Scope 1, 2 and 3.


How to achieve Net Zero Standard?


Businesses are responsible for 85% of emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3 - Scope 1 represents all direct emissions from the activity of an organisation, Scope 2 represents indirect emissions from electricity purchased and used by the organisation and Scope 3, all other indirect emissions from the activities of the organisation, occurring from sources that they do not own or control. Scope 3 emissions represent the biggest share of carbon footprint, covering emissions from waste, water, travelling and procurement. 73% of fossil-based energy is used for heat, power, industrial processes and transportation.


SBTi links corporate emissions directly to climate science and the new Net-Zero Standard provides a route for businesses to develop concrete plans to respond to investors, boards and customer demands to demonstrate planning and action towards Net-Zero. The SBTi standard is used to develop a framework from which detailed action plans will flow.


A company reaches SBTi’s standard when it reduces emissions in line with the target of 1.5° of global warming. The standard includes a Near-Term Science-Based Target and a Long-Term Science-Based Target. Once these targets have been achieved, the residual emissions must be balanced through carbon removals.


The Near-Term Science-Based Target requires action for deep emissions reduction by 2030. The Long-Term Science-Based Target should be achieved by 2050 at the latest and its purpose is to drive economy-wide alignment and business planning to reach global net-zero by 2050. Once you have achieved your Long-Term Science-Based Target you can use Carbon Removals to offset your residual emissions.


What are the key updates from the SBTi’s Net Zero Standard?


The Net Zero Standard requires deep and rapid value-chain reductions. Near-Term targets are set to ensure immediate reductions and halving emissions by 2030.


SBTi has raised the ambition. Starting July 2022, companies must align scope 1 and 2 ambitions with a minimum of 1.5° of warming and scope 3 with a target of well below 2°. Additionally, long-term targets must cover 90% of scope 3 emissions.


Another important requirement is clarity on claims. According to the Net Zero Standard, a company will be considered to have achieved net zero only when the Long-Term target has been reached.


What does this mean?


Companies that already have a Net Zero Target need to quickly assess if their target meets the new criteria to be considered “science-based”. Getting validation and aligning with the Net-Zero Standard will enable stakeholder confidence.


For companies with no clear targets, the stakeholders are demanding action. These companies need to start measuring, reporting and reducing their emissions. The Net-Zero Standard provides a robust route to validation and can be clearly communicated. A key aim of the Standard is to eliminate greenwashing.


For those companies already on board, scope 1 and 2 emissions are being reduced at a faster rate than required by SBTi criteria to meet the 1.5° warming target. This is very encouraging in support of the adoption of the standard.


The first seven firms to achieve certification for their net-zero targets are:

  • AstraZeneca (UK)

  • CVS Health (US)

  • Dentsu International (UK)

  • Holcim (Switzerland)

  • JLL (US)

  • Ørsted (Denmark)

  • Wipro (India)

Conclusion


We now have an independent standard that validates and soon will verify companies' net-zero claims and actions according to best practice. The Net-Zero Standard calls for transparency, demanding companies to publicly disclose their targets, reduction strategies and how they are financing mitigation actions outside their value chain.


The SBTi standard provides reassurance for companies that their actions are aligned with climate science which is of huge value in encouraging business to act.


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