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The ABC of Science Based Targets

Léa Lemniai

What exactly are Science Based Targets or climate goals? How do they work, and most importantly of all, how do you implement them within your organisation?

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The effects of climate change are today becoming increasingly apparent, affecting both natural and human systems to devastating effect. While this does include increased instances in extreme weather phenomena, both our water resources and overall health are also being affected by its knock-on effects. This has seen an increasing number of businesses and organisations wanting to play their part in facing up to this challenge, each seeking an appropriate practical solution to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) was set up to guide organisations through this process and offer them a roadmap.

During the SBT-webinar organised in September '22, we took the opportunity to explore the world of Science Based Targets and find out more about how BACA is helping organisations take action on climate change and commit to the SBT process.

Climate science at the heart of your organisation

For organisations, Science Based Targets are goals designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on climate science. By defining these goals, businesses commit to calculating the speed and intensity at which they need to reduce their carbon footprint to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change. In doing so, they must align their activities and operations with the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement, namely limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.


But how exactly should organisations go about trying to achieve an economy with zero carbon emissions?

The Science Based Target initiative offers organisations a methodology for setting up their climate goals. This roadmap may vary depending on the type of organisation. For example, SMEs will require a different approach to financial institutions.


To define and calculate realistic emission reduction targets for your organisation, you need to start by determining your carbon footprint. There are different types of emissions to take into account, also referred to as ‘scopes’.

  • Scope 1 emissions are those the organisation emits directly, the ones it owns. These may come from infrastructure or company vehicles, for example.
  • Scope 2 emissions are those linked to the consumption of energy needed to produce the organisation’s product or deliver its service.
  • And finally, scope 3 refers to the organisation’s indirect emissions, those emitted throughout the supply chain. Dealing with scope 3 emissions therefore requires a joint effort, together with suppliers and consumers, who must also set up measures to reduce their own scope 1 and 2 emissions. For most organisations, scope 3 represents more than 90% of their total emissions.

Once they have measured their carbon footprint, along with the emissions generated by their activities within the supply chain, organisations can move on to defining sector-specific goals, specifying a methodology and target year to achieving them by.

Next, after committing to reducing their emissions, business are accredited by the SBTi as a committed business, thereby validating its goals. This enables them to declare their goals and commitments publicly.

Finally, the business must update its goals as it progresses, publishing annual progress reports on its emissions reductions.

How does it work in practice?

For BACA, the power and importance of the community are the guiding principles behind the definition and achievement of SBTs. Many organisations within the alliance, spanning a range of sectors, with some further down the road in reducing emissions than others, are happy to share the challenges they have faced with other members, imparting the valuable lessons they have learnt along the way to SBTi accreditation.

Frédéric Rosseneu from Greenyard, Xavier Logel from Ontex and Mark Schravesande from VP Capital shared with us their experiences and advice. We learned that, for Ontex, ‘a key element that helped us make progress was hiring an internal expert in life-cycle analysis. This helped us understand the methodology and data we needed in identifying which areas we needed to focus on.’

We learned that, although the process seems long and complicated at first glance, there are many resources and documents available on implementing emission reduction goals. As for the more technical step of collecting and analysing the data required to calculate our carbon footprint, all organisations appeared to bring in external consultants.

‘The situation today is that all our biggest clients are asking for Science Based Targets. We would rather act as pioneers, instead of waiting and eventually ending up being forced to follow suit’

Frédéric Rosseneu, Greenyard

Overall, the message we got from hearing about everyone’s experiences was a fairly positive one. All of them invited us to take the plunge, insisting on the need to set up SBTs within our organisation in responding to today’s challenges, many of which consumers and investors already demand and support.

‘The situation today is that all our biggest clients are asking for Science Based Targets. We would rather act as pioneers, instead of waiting and eventually ending up being forced to follow suit’

If you want to find out more about this topic or the Belgian Alliance for Climate Action, check out the full webinar on BACA’s YouTube channel or contact BACA at