4Q 2018

How Science-Based Targets Offer Direction for Sustainability Performance

The goal of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is to reform emissions targets for corporations around the world. Launched in 2015 during the international climate negotiations in Paris, France (UNFCCC COP 21), SBTi employs the international reduction paths that recommend cutting levels to avoid a 1.5°C to 2°C rise in global average surface temperatures. Nearly 4 years later, the results and corporate gains are relatively unknown and indefinite.

In the mid-1990s, many companies decided to take action on global climate change and began by setting and meeting emissions reduction targets. They were spurred by several motivators, including NGO initiatives driving commitments, business pressures tied to cost savings and regulation, investor demands for sustainability solutions, and a reduction in fossil fuel reliance. These catalysts are still relevant in a new era of science-based target (SBT) setting. SBTi independently assesses and validates corporate emissions reduction targets against the latest climate science. The initiative strives to have companies set transparent targets that are grounded in relevance for sectors and companies, moving toward accountability throughout value chains, upstream and downstream.

This Guidehouse Insights report takes stock of the current domain for emissions reduction target setting and the lessons to draw from corporate activities on this sustainability topic. The study discusses how targets can compel companies to refocus on energy savings. Guidehouse Insights also provides recommendations for how sustainability specialists can take advantage of trends and optimize energy savings as a winning measure for the low carbon transition.

Pages 15
Tables | Charts | Figures 2
  • What can be learned from the evolution of corporate sustainability and emissions reduction targets? 
  • What constitutes a science-based target (SBT)?
  • What is the role of energy savings in a suite of measures to achieve an SBT?
  • How can campaigns, performance indicators, partnerships, a strategic vision, and business value all play a part when structuring a climate action plan?
  • What lessons can be learned from select US companies about SBTs and energy savings?
  • Corporate sustainability specialists
  • Manufacturers and corporations
  • Utilities
  • Energy service providers
  • Nongovernmental organizations                  
  • Investor community





Science-Based Targets

Science Based Targets Initiative

Energy Savings

Continuous Improvement

Efficiency Services Agreement


Adopt Science-Based Targets and Avoid Implementation Missteps

Respond to Rising Pressures and the Push for SBTs

Structure Abatement Programs That Are Relevant to the Business and Beyond

Develop a Campaign for Emissions Abatement (Walmart)

Define and Commit to Performance Indicators to Monitor Performance (The Coca-Cola Company)

Invest in Third-Party Partnerships to Realize Emissions Reductions

Create a Strategic Vision to Mobilize Internal Action

Procter & Gamble

General Mills

HP Inc.

Commit to SBT Steps That Deliver Business Value

Address Energy Savings as a Must Have

Emphasize the Value of a Portfolio of SBT Strategies

Find Partnerships from New Directions

Acknowledge the Changing Velocity of Ambition

Be Mindful of Enterprise Management System Logic

Why Are We Waiting?
  • Coca-Cola System Energy Use Ratio and Emissions Ratio: 2007-2017 
  • Carbon Productivity Portfolio 
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