SBTi Guide: Aligning Net Zero Goals with Science

SBTi Guide: Aligning Net Zero Goals with Science

Aligning Business Sustainability with SBTi: A Guide by Net Zero Now

In our collective endeavour to combat climate change, aligning business operations with the scientific consensus on climate action is indispensable. The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) stands out as a comprehensive framework guiding companies towards setting realistic yet ambitious environmental targets. This approach not only significantly reduces climate impact but also carves pathways for a sustainable corporate future. At Net Zero Now, we recognise the complexities of this journey and offer tailored support to navigate the SBTi submission process. Our platform excels in measuring your organisation's baseline carbon footprint, meticulously validated by our expert Climate Team. Following this, we engage in detailed interviews and conduct three-scenario modelling to outline clear, actionable pathways for your business. This structured approach ensures your carbon reduction strategies are not just theoretical but quantifiably attainable, aligning with global sustainability standards. With our comprehensive net zero consultancy and carbon accounting software, adopting and implementing SBTi's science-based targets is transformed into an efficient, integrated strategy, empowering your company to make substantial contributions to the well-being of our planet.

What Does SBTi Stand For?

The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) is a critical catalyst in guiding companies towards setting environmentally sound, science-based targets to curb global warming significantly. This initiative represents a collective effort by CDP, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), offering businesses a structured pathway to contribute meaningfully to the global agenda of limiting temperature rise in alignment with prevailing scientific knowledge. Through SBTi, organisations are not just encouraged but are equipped with the necessary tools and guidance to transition smoothly into a low-carbon economy, setting targets that are not only ambitious but also in strict adherence to the targets set out in the Paris agreement of limiting the average global temperature rise to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. This initiative underscores the urgent necessity for corporate sectors to mirror scientific insights in their environmental targets, thus fostering a more sustainable and climate-resilient future. Net Zero Now champions this cause, providing unwavering support to businesses at every step of their SBTi journey, ensuring their targets are not just set but achieved.

What is the SBTi sector specific approach?

As well as assisting companies in submitting SBTi targets, we have also aligned our sector protocols with SBTi best practices. The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) strategically employs a sectoral approach to accommodate various industries' distinct environmental challenges and goals. This tailored method ensures the development of realistic, industry-specific, science-based targets, enabling many sectors to advance towards sustainability effectively. Embracing this approach from the outset, Net Zero Now uniquely distinguishes itself as the only carbon accounting platform that collaborates closely with industry bodies and trade associations to devise comprehensive sector protocols and net zero roadmaps. Specifically, in order to be certified in alignment with each of our sector protocols, companies are required to set near-term and long-term targets based on SBTi guidance. This collaboration ensures that businesses across all sectors are equipped with the precise tools and guidance needed to navigate their journey to net zero, aligning their efforts with both SBTi standards and Net Zero Now sector protocols.

Is SBTi Based on the GHG Protocol?

The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) targets are fundamentally grounded in the principles of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, ensuring a standardised approach to measuring and reporting emissions. This alignment provides businesses with a clear, universally recognised framework for quantifying their carbon footprint across all emission scopes. By utilising GHG Protocol methodologies, SBTi helps companies identify significant emission sources, set science-aligned reduction targets, and track progress with precision.

The Difference Between Net-Zero and SBTi

Understanding the critical distinction between net-zero emissions goals and the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) is essential for businesses on their sustainability journey. While net-zero serves as the overarching goal, encompassing a broad spectrum of emissions reduction strategies, the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) operates as a specialised mechanism, guiding businesses towards achieving net zero in a scientifically validated and credible manner.

Through its comprehensive carbon accounting platform, Net Zero Now empowers companies to set, achieve, and communicate their science-based targets, ensuring meaningful contributions to global climate action efforts.

Real-World Impact: Examples of a Science-Based Target

You may wonder who is signed up to SBTi? The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has garnered commitment from over 2,000 companies worldwide, spanning various sectors and embracing the call to set science-based emissions reduction targets. Notably, esteemed corporations such as CVS Health, Veolia, and Marks & Spencer have joined this global movement. Their participation underscores the initiative's broad appeal and its critical role in guiding businesses across industries towards sustainable and impactful climate action.

A good example of Net Zero Now's implementation of SBTi-submission targets is seen in the journey of Mills & Reeve, a prestigious law firm committed to sustainability and climate action. By collaborating with Net Zero Now, Mills & Reeve is in the process of establishing robust science-based targets. Their comprehensive sustainability report shows their dedication to reducing emissions and fostering a sustainable business model.

"Collaboration has consistently played a crucial role in advancing our sustainability initiatives at Mills & Reeve. Our partnership with Net Zero Now has been incredibly helpful for setting our SBTi targets. They’ve connected us with several key stakeholders and partnership organisations allowing us to foster and exchange ideas, expertise, and best practices, and helping us to foster a more effective and impactful drive towards net zero. Overall this collaboration has helped to strengthen our wider sustainability messaging across the firm, involving our people more closely in our journey to net zero." -  Jessica Wilkes-Ball, Senior Sustainability Manager at Mills & Reeve

Another exemplary Net Zero Now client, Hill Dickinson, mirrors this commitment to environmental stewardship. Conducting SBTi-submission modelling with Net Zero Now's assistance has propelled them toward significant sustainability milestones.

"We have significantly shifted the dial on our approach to sustainability in recent years and are happy to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Clients are also increasingly looking to work with responsible businesses that subscribe to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Working with the team at Net Zero Now to set acceptable science-based targets has been a powerful driver for us to make real, impactful changes to achieve a more sustainable way of doing business. Six months into the SBTi process, we're feeling very positive." - Ariel Edesess, ESG Senior Analyst at Hill Dickinson.

Scope 3 Target Requirement for SBTi: A Deep Dive

Addressing Scope 3 emissions is a cornerstone of the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), essential for companies aiming to manage their indirect emissions holistically. These emissions, stemming from all indirect activities other than purchased electricity in a company's value chain, including both upstream and downstream processes, pose unique challenges but also offer significant opportunities for impactful climate action. The SBTi framework acknowledges this by setting distinct near-term targets for both Scopes 1 & 2 and Scope 3 emissions respectively, offering businesses various pathways to compliance, such as:

  • absolute reduction targets, 
  • intensity-based targets (for scope 3), 
  • supplier engagement targets (for scope 3), 
  • renewable energy percentage targets (for scope 2), 
  • (note that there are additional avenues for establishing targets).

This flexibility enables companies to tailor their strategies to their specific operational contexts and supply chain dynamics. Net Zero Now provides specialised support to simplify the intricacies of Scope 3 emissions management. Utilising our carbon accounting platform and expertise, businesses are equipped to effectively set, manage, and meet their ambitious Scope 3 reduction targets, ensuring alignment with SBTi’s comprehensive standards. This strategic approach empowers companies to extend their sustainability efforts beyond their immediate operations, fostering a more sustainable future across their entire supply chains.

How Net Zero Now Facilitates Your SBTi Submission

​​Net Zero Now is pivotal in simplifying the journey toward achieving Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) compliance, providing comprehensive support that demystifies the complex process. We guide businesses through each crucial step, ensuring a seamless transition to sustainability that aligns with rigorous SBTi standards:

  1. Measure Baseline Emissions: The Net Zero Now carbon accounting platform will accurately measure your company's baseline emissions across Scopes 1, 2, and 3, providing a solid foundation for target setting. Our Climate Team will validate this footprint. 
  2. Conduct Interviews: Our Climate Team then conducts detailed interviews with key stakeholders within your organisation to understand current practices and future ambitions. 
  3. Emissions Scenario Modeling: Utilising the insights gathered, we model three emissions scenarios 10 years from the baseline year that reflect potential pathways to achieving your targets. These scenarios are: Business as Usual, Low Climate Ambition, and High Climate Ambition.
  4. Review: We then review these models with you, comparing them against your SBTi near-term targets to identify necessary adjustments to ensure you hit the required targets.
  5. Re-modeling: Based on this review, any required changes are made to refine the model, ensuring it accurately represents the most effective path to target achievement.
  6. SBTi Submission: Finally, we lead the form-filling component of this process and submit your SBTi targets on your behalf for validation by SBTi.

Harry, Climate Research Manager at Net Zero Now, shares: "Going through the process of measuring a baseline footprint, identifying emissions hotspots, and interviewing the relevant stakeholders about reducing emissions in these areas offers many insights, not only to our modelling team, but also to the company we are working with. Before the modelling is even complete, we have seen there is immense value in even just having these conversations for the companies that we work on these submissions with. It’s about bringing everyone along on the journey, ensuring a clear understanding of why we are doing this, which in turn makes implementation of emissions reduction policies a lot more seamless. Whilst each company that we work on SBTi submissions with faces unique challenges, it is interesting to note the common themes that emerge across these projects, notably around ensuring the correct data collection mechanisms are in place. After all, as is often the phrase, you cannot manage what you do not measure!”


In conclusion, the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) stands as a critical framework for businesses committed to robust, scientifically validated climate action, guiding them toward ambitious and impactful carbon reduction targets. Net Zero Now plays a pivotal role in empowering companies across various sectors to navigate the complexities of SBTi and climate compliance, providing:

- Comprehensive Support: From target setting to scenario modelling and final disclosure, ensuring a seamless SBTi journey.
- Sector-Specific Insights: Leveraging industry collaborations to offer tailored protocols and net zero roadmaps.
- Validated Emissions Data: Enabling accurate SBTi reporting for Scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions, crucial for SBTi submissions.
- Bespoke Carbon Emissions Reduction Plans: Facilitating the implementation of practical and effective strategies to achieve targets.

We encourage businesses to take decisive action towards sustainability by exploring Net Zero Now's platform and services. Commit to a scientifically validated path toward net zero and join the global movement towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

Take the first step towards a sustainable future; schedule a free consultation with our Net Zero Now experts today and unlock the path to achieving your science-based targets or get support for your SBTI submission.