Science Based Targets

Driving Ambitious Corporate Climate Action



Targets adopted by companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures, as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5).


  • Despite the introduction of climate change mitigation measures by governments, companies, civil society and other actors, total anthropogenic GHG emissions are continuing to increase. Under the current trajectory, global mean temperatures are projected to increase by 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, far beyond the levels of warming that the international scientific community has identified as safe.
  • The world’s carbon budget is the total volume of GHGs that can be emitted while providing a degree of confidence that temperature rise will be limited to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius. Science-based targets recognize that budget, limiting a company’s GHG emissions to an allocation using various existing approaches. Most of the global GHG emissions are either directly or indirectly influenced by the corporate sector. Companies have a clear role to play in protecting our climate and ensuring that the transition to a low-carbon economy is smooth and prosperous.
  • Science Based Targets, a joint initiative by CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and WWF, identifies and promotes innovative approaches to setting ambitious and meaningful corporate GHG reduction targets. Dozens of companies have already committed to align their GHG reduction targets with climate science, including businesses like H&M, Honda, Mars, National Grid and BT Group. This group continues to grow as more business leaders see the benefits of taking ambitious climate action.


Companies that set science-based targets build long-term business value and safeguard their future profitability in four important ways:

  1. Drive innovation: The transition to a low-carbon economy will catalyze the development of new technologies and operational practices. The companies that set ambitious targets now will lead innovation and transformation tomorrow.
  2. Save money and increase competitiveness: Setting ambitious targets now ensures a lean, efficient, and durable company in a future where resources become increasingly more expensive – particularly resources derived from fossil fuels. Rising prices of raw materials can mean the difference between profit and loss.
  3. Build credibility and reputation: Companies taking a leadership position on climate bolster their credibility and reputation among stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, policy makers and environmental groups. Approximately half of consumers worldwide believe climate change will have a negative effect on their own lives, and 65 per cent of consumers agree that human activity is responsible for climate change.
  4. Influence & prepare for shifting public policy: Taking ambitious action now helps companies stay ahead of future policies and regulations to limit GHG emissions. Companies that are seen as leaders are better able to influence policy makers and help shape developing legislation.


Smart companies understand the risks posed by climate change and demonstrate leadership by setting science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets. More than 80 per cent of the world’s 500 largest companies established emission reduction or energy specific targets in the 2014-15 financial year, evidence that the business community is investing in a stable climate and seizing opportunities in the new low-carbon economy.

To join the movement and become one of the first 100 companies to take this important step towards a low carbon economy, write to or


Taking action now will ensure the smoothest possible transition to the low-carbon economy while preserving ecological stability. If action is delayed, companies will need to make deeper cuts to their GHG emissions, which will be extremely disruptive to business. Companies can demonstrate leadership by joining the Initiative now and receive expert support and greater long-term benefits.