Science based Goals – defining environmental strategies based on our planet’s boundaries

Science-based goal setting is an approach that aligns a business’ sustainability strategy with environmental science.

It all started with the creation of the Planetary Boundaries framework, one that defines the environmental resilience of our planet, which led to the Science-Based Targets initiative.

To this end, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBT) was created by a partnership between the CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF with the objective of helping companies determine how much greenhouse gas emissions must be cut to prevent the worst-case scenario of climate change. In other words, a climate science-based goal is aligned with keeping global temperatures under a 2°C scenario. This initiative has created major momentum with stakeholders who are increasingly asking companies about their action on climate change.

SBT works by trying to allocate the global carbon budget that the world can consume by 2100 between the sectors and companies, looking at how they plan to evolve and what reduction potential they have.

Quick wins and small scale projects are not enough anymore in this context. This new, science-based approach requires bold, systemic change in business models.

Aligning strategy and actions with science-based goals

Science-based goals represent a real paradigm shift. It is a move away from benchmarking, which positions a company compared to what others are doing, to assessing what our planet can support and defining its objectives consequently. It also means that action plans must be defined accordingly.

Quantis works with companies around the world committed to setting science-based goals. Our team leads awareness-raising workshops on science-based goal-setting and planetary boundaries and we also guide companies seeking to align their sustainability strategy with these new approaches, or to define long-term goals and operational action plans.

Science-based goals represent a real paradigm shift.

To learn more about the new era in goal setting and listen to how Mars and Intel are changing their approach, listen to our webinar or read this article “Supercharging Sustainability Metrics with Science”.

Contact Quantis’ Charlotte Bande to learn more about how we can help your company measure, define, report and reach science-based goals.

With science-based goals, companies finally having a way to define environmental strategies strengthened by a recognized scientific approach.

The rules of the game have changed

On top of looking at the global planet’s resilience, this initiative pushes companies to look beyond their companies’ operating control, having to define ambitious targets on their Scope 3 as well.  

The WRI teamed up with Quantis to develop the Scope 3 Evaluator to get companies started. You can also read this article from our friend Cynthia Cummis from WRI on the business case for SBT.

Our experts guide industry on key environmental impacts: climate change, deforestation and land use change as well as on water risk and assessment.

Planetary risks: carbon and beyond

Knowing the World Economic Forum stated in a report that climate change is the world’s biggest risk, there’s no doubt why companies are focusing primarily on climate change. However, climate change is not the only risk for our planet and its people – this is also highly linked with others such as land use change.   

Another topic on the Planetary Boundaries Framework is freshwater availability. Water scarcity is definitely another key issue with rising demography and increase for water needs around the world. But while carbon can be looked at globally, defining science-based goals on water requires a completely different approach, namely a local bottom up approach: mapping the key areas at risk through water footprinting ensuring to define strong action plans where water is stressed.

Quantis lead the development of the ISO 14046 standard on water footprinting

A similar approach could be applied for other key environmental issues. Particulate matter, photochemical ozone, freshwater eutrophication and acidification are all regional or local problems and defining global boundaries is not enough. Determining the geographic scope of our emissions and the local context are the first steps needed to set science based goals representative of the real problems endangering species and human health.