When it comes to climate change, it is essential that we balance pledges with proven progress.

The saying goes that you cannot manage what you cannot measure, but at times the way we measure things such as greenhouse gas reductions, and the language we use to describe them, can seem complex and full of jargon and data.  

Science Based Targets are intended to be a pathway to turn climate promises into clear actions, but what are they and why do they matter?  

Let’s look at the wider climate crisis and its impact on businesses.  

Breaking down greenhouse gases  

Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHGs) and the burning of fossil fuels that increase carbon dioxide levels are considered to be the main cause of global warming.

While carbon-emitting transport and meat-based diets are often hotly debated, the building and construction industry is in fact responsible for around 40% of annual global emissions. 

It is critical that companies set GHG reduction targets in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement to keep the planet at a safer temperature. However, because of the prevalence of fossil fuels in modern society, it can be challenging for businesses to form a complete picture of where their emissions are coming from.  

To put things into perspective, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol has broken GHG emissions into three categories to help measure a business’ carbon footprint:

Scope 1 – Direct emissions: Emissions that are directly within a company’s control and includes manufacturing products, the creation of waste, fuelling company vehicles and equipment. 

Scope 2 – Indirect emissions from purchased energy: Emissions generated from electricity, natural gas, HVAC, refrigeration and other energy consumption needs. 

Scope 3 – Indirect emissions from product lifecycle: This means all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions. This covers everything from the emissions produced for purchased parts and materials to the end user’s use of a product or service. 

Businesses may often not realise their environmental impact coming from outside their operations and within their supply chain. Knowing what the impacts are, and where they exist, is critical for businesses to begin tackling their environmental impact. 

Demystifying the data 

Science Based Targets are intended to provide a pathway for companies to reduce GHG emissions, helping to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and spur business growth. 

Targets are considered “science-based” if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming.

Science Based Targets help provide the background for a company to develop a clear roadmap for its sustainability journey. There are business benefits for setting these targets and demonstrating solid green credentials for increasingly environmentally conscious customers. 

The path forward 

Companies embarking on their sustainability journey must ensure that their reduction commitments are consistent with the Paris Agreement. 

This is where the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) comes in. The SBTi is a partnership between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) that aims to elevate businesses’ commitment to GHG reductions and to recognise companies leading in this area. 

A collective goal 

The people at Interface are passionate about their mission to overcome climate change and have a straightforward approach to implementing their own science-based targets.

We’re committed to reducing emissions and are focusing on becoming a carbon-negative company by 2040. 

Full acknowledgment and thanks go to https://blog.interface.com/ for the information in this editorial.

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