11 Aug 2021

Why science-based targets mean good business (part 2)

Posted in: Reducing emissions

Why science-based targets mean good business

science based targets text over an image of fernsPart 2 in a new series

Your boss has asked you for a science-based emissions reduction target – how do you get started? This series of articles will cover what you need to know.

The Benefits Of Being Bold

There is no hiding from it. SBTs are ambitious, challenging and for some businesses, a bit daunting. So why commit to one? Because it’s good for business. And as the Financial Times reports, they also work.

Some leading companies have set SBTs already. For example, in 2020, Microsoft estimated it would emit 16 million metric tons of carbon for the calendar year. As you can imagine, the bulk of its footprint stems from energy consumption and its global supply chain.

Using the SBT framework, Microsoft has committed to halving its source emissions and those across its full supply and value chains by 2030, which combined with offsets will enable it to become carbon positive. It has since taken that a step further and committed to implementing initiatives to remove all the emissions it is responsible for directly or through electrical consumption, going back to 1975. As a successful multi-national, it clearly recognises that it is financially better equipped than most to invest in emissions reduction, not just for itself but its partners.

You can read more about Microsoft’s plan here. As you would expect it requires substantial investment in renewable energy use, energy efficiency and electrifying its vehicle fleet, alongside the technologies or activities needed to absorb the carbon it has and will continue to emit. This will all be reported publicly through an annual Environmental Sustainability Report.

The benefits to Microsoft, like all businesses that set an SBT, are clear. They fit within four themes: social license, resilience, profitability and innovation.

infographic with icons and text reading social license, resilience, profitability, innovation

Social license

Governments and consumers expect businesses to take climate action seriously and play their part in reducing emissions. Science-based climate action demonstrates visible climate leadership by taking full carbon responsibility and secures your license to operate for the long-term. The reputational benefits are reflected in brands being able to easily and credibly make environmental claims, and in creating a culture that will help to attract and retain staff, customers and suppliers.


Investors, regulators, insurers and customers are all looking at climate change as a way to evaluate risk. An SBT reduces risks for your company, whether those risks are linked to your supply chain, your assets, or your business model. It requires you to re-shape your business strategy to be future-thinking and future-proof, which puts you ahead of the game while climate action remains voluntary. This will ensure you remain insurable, investable, and relevant.


Carbon reduction often directly correlates to cost savings over time, primarily through operational and production efficiencies. An SBT demands the most efficient use of resources and energy and this helps leaders outperform their competitors, secure market positions, and win contracts.


Once the low hanging fruit are knocked off, it takes innovation to keep slashing emissions. Innovation at this level means bringing the problem and the search for solutions to the entire company, from the shop floor to the procurement desk to the C suite. Even if the solution requires technology that doesn’t yet exist, involving the wider organisation means more eyes looking for a solution, and this could drive innovation in areas not yet considered.

We can help

The shift to science-based climate action places sustainability at the heart of your long-term business strategy, rather than looking at carbon and environment in isolation. This long-term commitment to transformation will let you lead now and well into the future. Let us help. Our expert advisors can help you assess where you are now and map out a reduction pathway aligned with climate science.

Keep reading part 3 of this series, where we lay out the quick guide to how you set a science-aligned target.

Want to know more?

Understanding the science behind strategic emissions reductions is just the beginning of decarbonisation. Read our other reduction stories here or:

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