Science-based targets for nature launched for businesses

Published on May 29, 2023

The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) has released the first science-based targets for nature.

The new framework enables companies to assess environmental impacts and then examine scientific pathways to address them. The original scope of the framework covers freshwater and land, alongside climate, which will be supported by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

The Network will provide companies will tools and guidance to start the target-setting process.

The first 17 companies to commit to setting targets have been announced. These include AB InBev, Alpro (part of Danone), Bel, Carrefour, Corbion, GSK, H&M Group, Hindustan Zinc Limited, Holcim Group, Kering, L’OCCITANE Group, LVMH, Nestlé, Neste Corporation, Suntory Holdings Limited, Tesco and UPM.

An initial pilot will be undertaken with this group of companies, who will set targets this year, with a full roll-out to all companies in early 2024.

The SBTN’s executive director Erin Billman said: “We are in the midst of interconnected crises. We cannot limit global warming to 1.5C without addressing nature loss, and we cannot halt and reverse nature loss without a stable climate. Crucially, we know we can’t address either without putting people and equity at the center.

“Building science-based targets for nature into business strategies will not only be vital to helping secure a healthy, resilient and equitable world, but to driving long-term resilience for businesses. By understanding and addressing their environmental impacts, companies can help mitigate supply chain disruptions, get ahead of regulatory compliance, and increase business value through access to capital and competitive advantage.

“We are asking businesses to seize the opportunity now and to start assessing their impact on Earth’s finite resources and prepare to set the first science-based targets for nature.”

The new targets framework follows almost three years of work, with feedback provided from more than 80 NGOs and corporates. The guidance has been tested by more than 115 companies worth more than $4trn in market capitalisation.

Targets and frameworks

The new initiative will aim to better incorporate nature into wider decarbonisation efforts and adds to the growing work to help corporates measure and manage nature-based impacts.

It aims to build on the success of the SBTi, which has seen more than 2,600 companies commit to heightened climate action by setting science-based targets for emissions.

In March 2023, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) released its fourth and final draft framework to enhance corporate approaches to disclosing nature-related data, introducing new steps to align reporting with the Taskforce on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD). The organisation will publish the final version in September 2023.

At the start of the year, the Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT) called on corporates to publish their transition plans for reaching net-zero this year, while also unveiling new members to the initiative and exploring how nature, adaptation and a just transition can be included.

The TPT was launched by the Treasury in April 2022, with a pledge that large businesses in high-emission sectors would be subjected to new net-zero disclosure requirements from 2023. It issued its first proposal for a ‘gold standard’ for net-zero transition plans and proposed that companies should have to publish one transition plan this year, then an update in 2026. In 2024 and 2025, information material to the plan should be included in financial reporting.

The TPT has confirmed that feedback to the existing proposal called for more guidance on how transition plans can link to and account for wider sustainability issues such as nature, adaptation and a just transition. New working groups will be set up to explore these areas and whether they can or will be included in future TPT frameworks.

Source: Matt Mace, Edie

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