In her characteristically simple and sober style, she referred politicians and business leaders alike to the contents of page 108, chapter 2 of the latest IPCC report – a section containing guidance on the planet’s remaining carbon budget, or the amount of CO2e we are allowed to emit if we are to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Here is a quick summary of why we wouldn’t want to go beyond 1.5 degrees, in case you missed the memo. She then proceeded to remind everyone that at current emission levels the remaining carbon budget will be gone in less than a decade.
I hope that by now we, the Sustainable Brands community and the broader business community, are more than clear on what we can and need to do about this. If you are not thinking ‘science-based targets’ right about now, you really need to catch up – keep reading. And if you are thinking it, but you don’t feel your organization is quite there yet, for whatever reason, then this blog post is for you too – keep reading. We are here to train any and all sustainability leaders and professionals on mastering science-based targets not only in theory, but very much in practice, too – from understanding what it means in the context of your industry and company, to finding and analyzing the right data in preparation for doing it, to figuring out how to sketch out an initial plan of action, to iterating said plan until it aligns and clicks well with strategic business priorities and the rest of the value chain, to getting everything checked, verified and supported by the right partners, to unveiling it proudly, and, last but not least, executing it in due course.
For a good bit of inspiration and motivation, consider this news, also from this week: The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the We Mean Business coalition just announced that 28 companies, with a combined market capitalization of $1.3 trillion, are stepping up their climate ambition through a new campaign called ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C — Our Only Future’. First movers include Acciona, AstraZeneca, Banka BioLoo, BT, Dalmia Cement Ltd., Eco-Steel Africa Ltd., Enel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Iberdrola, KLP, Levi Strauss & Co., Mahindra Group, Natura &Co, Novozymes, Royal DSM, SAP, Signify, Singtel, Telefonica, Telia, Unilever, Vodafone Group PLC and Zurich Insurance, amongst others, collectively representing over one million employees from 17 industries.
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OK, so this can be done. Is your company doing it? Is your company doing it right? Is your company doing it now?
There is more support and encouraging news on an important related front. We now have science-based targets guidance not only for climate, but also for forests – another critical part of the quest to ensure a livable planet in the coming decades. In a dynamic keynote talk at this year’s flagship Sustainable Brands conference in June, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shared how its ‘forest positive’ campaign is giving birth to a science-based approach that helps answer the question “What quantity and quality of forests need to be saved across different forest regions, in order to provide people, businesses and wildlife with the clean air, clean water and other ‘services’ we need?” This is further supported and rounded out by the newly-launched multi-NGO Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) – a set of norms, definitions and guidelines that helps clarify what best practices are in agriculture and forestry supply chains.
So, we have the most critical guidance ready and available – all we need is to roll up our sleeves, absorb it, adopt it and thrive as the sustainable business leaders of tomorrow.
If you want to learn how to navigate and apply all the guidance around science-based goal-setting mentioned here, plus the latest and most practical guidance on integrated reporting, impact measurement, SDG tracking and regenerative economics, we hope to see you at this year’s New Metrics ’19 conference, now in its 9th year – November 18th-20th in Philadelphia, PA.