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Testimonial: The journey towards setting SBTs

Dorothée Bernier (Mobility Expert, Traject)

In 2015, I helped implement science-based targets (SBTs) at the first ever Belgian company to join the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

I was lucky to work alongside a CEO for whom it went without saying the we had to do everything we could to protect the environment. When she first found out about the SBTi, she instantly grasped the initiative’s value and relevance: it was a practical tool that could be implemented in any country, a well-defined framework to help shape our actions. So she made sure to integrate the idea into the company’s overarching strategy, at the same level of importance as the other business goals. In the end, sustainability even became one of the company’s top priorities. It was exactly the tool we needed to help us decide on the right level for our ambitions.

We simultaneously developed an action plan and calculated which targets we’d need. When we had completed our calculations, however, we struggled to translate the emission reductions we wanted to achieve into an actual science-based target. To tackle that challenge, we turned to all the different units in our company for help. Giving people a certain freedom is how you get everyone on board. We trusted each unit to come up with its own proposal for how they’d contribute. True success is always a joint effort. This kind of collective participation also made it easier to involve partners and supplier in what we were doing.

The sudden need to achieve our SBT accelerated innovation, because we had to come up with creative solutions to reach our goal – especially in the final stages, which are always the hardest. Adopting a science-based target is a good way to prepare for the tougher environmental standards we’ll all eventually have to face. Today, our company is ready for the future.

As a member of the global SBT community, we also found it easier to speak out and steer public debate on global warming in the right direction. It’s so exciting to see other stakeholders take note and adopt similar measures! And of course, SBTs can also be good for business. The more you reduce your company’s carbon footprint, the easier it becomes to meet concerned customers’ growing demand for carbon-neutral products. SBTs are not just another pretty label to boast about your climate efforts: they’re a necessity. Just ask your customers or your financial investors!

The company I worked at achieved its science-based target earlier than planned. Being a part of the whole SBT process was an amazing adventure – both in my career and for me as an individual. These days, I can’t think of any other tool that works better to align a company’s operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement, all while responding to employees’ quest for meaning in their professional lives as well as the concerns of the next generation.

Today, I work as a Sustainable Mobility Expert for Traject, a role in which I help companies reduce their mobility-related emissions. Because it can be a bit of a challenge to wrap your head around the infamous Scope 3 targets! Every day, I get to see how implementing ambitious targets that are in line with the latest scientific research is an incredibly powerful catalyst in clients’ action plans. Executive committees like to take decisions based on numbers. Well, now we can give them credible targets and the exact tools they need to achieve those targets. The transport sector accounts for almost a third of all emissions in Europe, but the good news is that there are solutions to change that!