"Science-based targets" typically refer to specific goals or objectives set by organisations, businesses, or governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with scientific evidence to mitigate climate change.

These targets are based on the best available scientific knowledge and aim to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement limiting global warming to below 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Key aspects of science-based targets include:

  • Alignment with climate goals: targets are aligned with the latest climate science and international agreements, especially the Paris Agreement.
  • Limit global warming potential: targets are set to limit global warming to specific temperature thresholds, considering the potential impact on the environment, ecosystems, and communities.
  • Decarbonization pathways: targets outline a clear pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, specifying the trajectory and sectors to focus on for emissions reductions.
  • Sectors and scope: targets often cover direct emissions (Scope 1), indirect emissions from purchased electricity (Scope 2), and additional indirect emissions in the value chain (Scope 3).
  • Ambitious and feasible: targets are both ambitious and achievable based on the organization's circumstances, industry benchmarks, and technological advancements.
  • Measurable and transparent: targets are clearly defined, measurable, and reported to stakeholders to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Adaptation considerations: in addition to mitigation, some science-based targets may include considerations for adaptation to climate change impacts.

This area is led globally by Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a partnership of organisations that supports companies to set targets using a number of different methodologies and validates the targets set by individual companies. 

Once a company has committed to the SBTi to set a science-based target it has a maximum of two years to set the target, submit for approval, and communicate externally. 

Organisations that set science-based targets commit to implementing measures and initiatives to achieve these goals, reduce their carbon footprint, and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change. It's essential for these targets to be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect advancements in climate science, technology, and changing circumstances.