Science-based climate targets deliver considerable reductions

Companies with science-based targets have reduced their combined scope 1 and 2 emissions by 25% since 2015, according to new research. To put that in context:there has been an increase of 3.4% in global emissions from energy and industrial processes over the same period.

Commitments from companies in the food and beverage sector continue to grow. So-called ‘high impact’ firms, like Nestlé, Coca-Cola, AB InBev and Diageo have all set science-based targets. Intercontinental hotels group have also set targets.

The new data, published by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTI), covered 338 firms, including those in the food sector whose climate targets have been approved by the SBTi as aligned with climate science and the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Diageo, for example, cut its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 45% between 2007 and 2019, against a 2020 target of 50%. AB Inbev meanwhile cut its emissions intensity (including scope 3) by 7% between 2017 and 2019; the target is 25% by 2025. It also uses 20% renewable energy, but is aiming for 100% by 2025.

Others have much more work to do. Pernod Ricard, for example, reported that emissions increased from 2018 to 2019; the goal is to achieve 30% by 2030.

Nestlé has already exceeded its scope 1 and 2 target for 2020 (12% reduction), but has more work to do on scope 3 emissions: there has been a 3% reduction since 2014 against a target of 8%.

Coca-Cola European Partners cut its scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions intensity by 31% between 2010 and 2019; and so should achieve 35% by 2025. PepsiCo’s reduction target, covering scopes 1 to 3, is 20% by 2030; so far it has managed 6%.

Companies with science-based targets are taking climate action at rates that not only meet, but are faster than, the pace of action required by the Paris Agreement, SBTi said. Transparency is also high, with 87% publicly reporting progress.

Despite covid, interest in climate goals remains high. Over 1,000 companies, making up 20% of global market capitalisation, have now set, or committed to set, a science-based target. More companies are now setting targets aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C than, for instance, a 2°C pathway or other type of target: 41% of all companies with science based targets have 1.5°C-aligned scope 1 and 2 targets.

There was also positive news on scope 3 emissions, those that lie outside core operations: 94% of the companies assessed have set scope 3 targets in line with climate science. The Carbon Disclosure Project reckons scope 3 emissions are on average 5.5 times higher than operational emissions.

“With COP26 on the horizon, now is the time for the private sector to step up to the plate and follow the science,” said Alexander Farsan, global lead on science based targets at WWF, one of the SBTi partners.

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