With almost 600 businesses publicly setting science-based targets, and consumer demand for sustainability growing exponentially, all businesses should be asking not if, but when, are we setting ours?
How to set science-based targets as part of your sustainability strategy
1. Get to know your product value chain
As Sian, our Head of Sustainable Business, mentioned in her Q&A about setting science-based targets, businesses need to consider scope 3 emissions – in other words, emissions from your supply chain and your customers’ use of your products eg energy use.
This can be fascinating. A lot of companies are not fully aware of the impact of their supply chain or their customers, so it’s a chance to explore opportunities for supplier and customer engagement, improvements to manufacturing processes and even potential for innovations.
Kingfisher, the home improvement company, has committed to reducing its scope 3 emissions by 40% by 2025. When setting this target, we helped it create scenarios that would help achieve this and ascertained how we would measure progress. This included looking at emission savings for key materials and providing its customers with energy-saving products.
2. Get to know colleagues across the business
To set science-based targets, you will need to create a baseline of where you are now. Getting this data will involve talking to people in lots of different roles in your organisation – from facilities managers to the head of logistics. Not only is this a great opportunity to create targets that draw on diverse expertise and lived experience – helping ensure that the targets will work in practice – it’s also an opportunity to gain internal buy-in. This is essential for the success of your targets; it will also make sure colleagues are aware of your company’s commitments and feel ownership of the changes that need to occur to reduce emissions. It’s always helpful to share some of the benefits that will help people in their jobs during the process – for example, B&Q saved £164 million through better energy, transport and waste management over ten years. What facilities or energy manager could say no to that!
3. Surround yourself with people who know what they are doing
As well as drawing on expertise within the organisation, you may find you need some external support too. Setting a science-based target can be very technical depending on your business model, especially when you get into measuring emissions from your supply chain and customers.It’s always helpful to get a second pair of eyes, and there are lots of organisations out there who can help you decipher the jargon. There are a growing number of resources out there, including UKGBC’s report on scope 3 reporting in the construction sector or the brand new World Resources Institute Cool Food Pledge, which helps the restaurant and hospitality sectors set SBTi targets.
4. Give yourself plenty of time
I’m not going to lie, setting science-based targets is a complex undertaking, but the Science-based Targets initiative (SBTi) gives companies two years to go through the process of setting science-based targets. It won’t be an unfamiliar journey though for those who are used to setting targets – you will be doing a lot of forward-thinking and modelling, as well as some robust data collection. Check out how we worked with Kingfisher to set its science-based targets, to help you learn more about what you can expect.
Learn more about how we work with businesses to set sustainability targets rooted in climate science.