Number of firms setting science-based emissions targets ‘doubled in 2023’

The number of companies and financial institutions setting validated targets on reducing emissions more than doubled in 2023, according to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

The global body, which validates the best practice in setting climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 1.5C, said 4,204 firms had their targets approved in 2023, up from 2,079 in 2022.

Among the companies that set validated, near-term, science-based targets were Aviva, Heathrow Airport, Greggs, John Lewis, Royal Mail, Tesco, ITV, Vodafone and McDonald’s.

The SBTi has seen an exponential growth in the number of institutions setting validated targets, starting with just 10 in 2015 before roughly doubling year on year.

The organisation was granted charitable status in 2023 by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, becoming an independent organisation in 2023.

It was previously a collaborative initiative between the Carbon Disclosure Project, We Mean Business Coalition, World Resources Institute, World Wide Fund for Nature and UN Global Compact.

The SBTi also incorporated a subsidiary which will house its target validation services and will continue standard setting.

In 2024, SBTi said it will review its corporate net-zero standard, to build upon the near term target-setting guidance for financial institutions.

The organisation said it also plans to prioritise the development of sector-specific standards for six high-impact sectors: oil and gas; electric utilities; automotives; chemicals; insurance; and apparel.

Luiz Amaral, SBTi chief executive, said: “We promised to prepare the SBTi for the next phase of growth and are delivering on that, doubling the number of companies validated in a single year while establishing our independence and strengthening our governance.”

Jessica Anderen, chief executive of SBTi core funder IKEA Foundation, said: “The SBTi’s transformation into an independent entity will strengthen the organisation’s ability to drive ambitious corporate climate action.

Andrew Steer, president of Bezos Earth Fund, which has also contributed funding, said: “For companies seeking to be part of the climate solution, setting science-based targets is key.

“The SBTi has become the go-to resource for climate-leading companies to set ambitious targets.”

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