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If you’re working in sustainability, you’re likely already familiar with the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

SBTi is a coalition of NGOs that helps companies set and achieve science-based greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. SBTi’s goal is to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

As pervasive as it is, we’ve learned that SBTi requires some decoding, even for seasoned sustainability titles.

So, here are 8 things that all leaders in sustainability need to know about SBTi.

1. What is “net zero,” and how does it differ from “SBTi-certified Net Zero”?

“Net zero” refers to the state in which all anthropogenic GHGs that have been put into the atmosphere are taken out. This term is very general and can be used by anyone. However, to comply with SBTi’s Corporate Net-Zero Standard, a company must make rapid, deep emission cuts, set near- and long-term targets, and go beyond its value chain to reduce emissions in line with SBTi’s standard.

2. How do offsets play into the SBTi requirements for absolute reductions in scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions?

If organizations want to report to the SBTi, there are stipulations regarding how to reduce their calculated footprint. SBTi prioritizes emission reductions over offsets, and the only long-term residual emissions strategy considered is carbon removal technologies.

Specifically, in SBTi’s latest Net-Zero Standard, the guidance to companies is to:

  • prioritize near-term (5-10 years) science-based targets.
  • purchase high-quality offsets (such as Climate Vault’s mature offset alternative, achieved by removing emission allowances from circulation) while working towards net zero.
  • invest in nascent CDR technologies so that the technology is available to address residual emissions at the long-term science-based target date.

3. My organization will always have an inescapable scope 3 impact. How can my company meet the SBTi goals?

Companies are only required to cover at least two-thirds (67%) of scope 3 emissions in their near-term targets (if scope 3 emissions comprise at least 40% of their cumulative scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions), acknowledging the need to give the power grid time to decarbonize. SBTi acknowledges that scope 3 target-setting is an evolving practice, and it recognizes different methods and indicators that can be effective in driving value-chain decarbonization.

4. What differentiates criteria for short-term SBTi goals and long-term goals?

Part of the criteria is the timeframe of the goals: short term is in the next 5-10 years, and long term is generally set as 2050.

Long-term goals are still achievable today. While organizations may be following SBTi guidance on reductions, they may also choose high-quality emission reduction strategies to achieve carbon neutrality right now, as they work toward net zero. SBTi recommends this in the Net-Zero Standard.

5. What constitutes high-quality carbon removal?

SBTi has rigorous standards surrounding the definition of high-quality carbon removals. The components include:

  • Prioritization of rapid, deep emission reductions by setting near-term targets
  • Inclusion of long-term targets
  • Neutralization of residual emissions
  • Expanding the scope of climate finance beyond the value chain

The recommendation states a critical need for companies to invest in nascent removal technologies so that the technology is available to neutralize residual emissions at the long-term science-based target date.

This aligns with the intensive standards Climate Vault has with its own internal CDR selection process. Furthermore, both Climate Vault and SBTi focus on the following when contemplating pursuing high quality removals:

  • Completeness: The target covers all material sources of emissions across company value chains.
  • Early Action: The near-term target delivers immediate action in line with climate science.
  • Ambition: The target leads to mitigation consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C in line with robust climate scenarios.
  • Timeframe: Companies must commit to reaching net-zero by 2050 at the latest
  • Accountability: The target will be subject to a robust and independent accountability framework.

6. Since SBTi does not have an approved vendor or partner program, how do I know what offerings are valid?

It’s true that SBTi does not have an approved vendor or partner program. But other organizations utilize SBTi’s frameworks to certify providers.

Chief among them, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) accredits leading environmental service providers around the world to help organizations find high-quality support. Accredited Solutions Providers support organizations working with CDP to improve their disclosure and take tangible action towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

7. What part of the SBTi Net-Zero Standard explains how Climate Vault’s reduction & removal model is aligned with this voluntary framework?

Section 2.4 on page 21 of the SBTi Net-Zero Standard recommends that companies prioritize near-term science-based targets, followed by securing and enhancing carbon sinks and investing in nascent GHG removal technologies so that the technology is available to neutralize residual emissions at the long-term science-based target date.

Climate Vault’s recurring RFP for Innovative Carbon Dioxide Removal Projects identifies innovative and promising technologies that satisfy the rigorous standards established by our Tech Chamber and achieve verification by third-party auditors.

As a CDP Carbon Removal and Science-Based Targets Accredited Solutions Provider, Climate Vault’s process satisfies these high standards established by SBTi.

8. How can Climate Vault help my organization achieve its SBTi goals?

Partnering with Climate Vault enables your organization to credibly reduce emissions outside of your value chain immediately while also securing the permanent, high-quality removals required to meet long-term science-based targets.

Climate Vault will measure your operational carbon footprint so you know where you’re starting and which components you want to reduce.

The mature Climate Vault alternative to traditional offsets quantifiably and verifiably reduces your carbon footprint via the compliance carbon markets, which also provide social benefits in their regions. This satisfies the rigor SBTi requires for high-quality offsets.

Ultimately, Climate Vault leverages those allowances over time into the world’s most promising carbon dioxide removal projects, ensuring an equal or greater amount of permanent carbon removal.
Plus, you’ll receive expertise with creating reports to satisfy SBTi and other frameworks, as well as tout your accomplishments with customers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders.

By partnering with Climate Vault, companies can follow SBTi’s framework for achieving net zero, claim access to quality and necessary CDR technologies, and provide transparent climate action—for good.

Looking to knock out your carbon footprint with a CDP-accredited solution? Reach out to the team at Climate Vault to find out how you and your team can meet your climate goals.