Only 20% of G20 companies’ climate targets science-based: Study

Growing numbers of companies in the G20 are setting climate targets but most fail to align with climate science, a new research by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the global body enabling businesses to set emissions reduction targets in line with science, said on Thursday.

Across the G20, 4,215 companies have disclosed climate targets to the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP)’s database but just 20 per cent of these are science-based targets in line with Paris Agreement goals.

This is made up of 2,999 companies in the G7 and 1,216 companies in the G13. In the G7, 25 per cent of targets are science-based, compared to just six per cent in the G13.

G7 countries are led by the UK and France, with 41 per cent and 33 per cent of disclosed climate targets being science-based.

Meanwhile some of the world’s heaviest emitters, which are found in the G13 group of countries — such as Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia — do not contain a single company to have submitted an approved science-based target.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in August stated that global temperatures were ‘likely’ to rise above the 1.5 degrees Celsius target set at the Paris Agreement by 2040.

Global emissions must be halved by 2030 in order to keep warming at Paris-agreed levels.

Across all G7 corporate indexes, 10 per cent of companies are responsible for at least 48 per cent of total index emissions.

Science-based targets cut corporate emissions by 25 per cent on average over the last five years.

SBTi companies are on track to reduce emissions by half between 2020 and 2030 on average, if they continue at the same rate.

Lila Karbassi, Chief of Programmes, UN Global Compact and SBTi Board Chair, said: “Last month’s IPCC report was ‘code red’ for humanity. Urgent climate action must now be a top priority for those in power. Science-based targets are proven to cut corporate emissions at the pace and scale required — they are a vital part of the puzzle for governments and companies worldwide.

“Ahead of the G20 Summit and COP26, our world leaders must put their full support behind science-based targets as an effective way to slash emissions.”

The research is an update to the Taking the Temperature report, prepared by CDP and the UN Global Compact on behalf of the SBTi in June. The report analysed the emissions reduction targets of companies in G7 indexes and produced a temperature rating per index, showing the level of global warming that would be reached if companies in the index met their targets.

It found that 71 per cent of Germany’s DAX 30 companies’ emissions are covered by science-based targets (SBTs), resulting in the lowest index temperature rating of 2.2 degrees, while just one per cent of Canada’s SPTSX 60 companies are covered by SBTs, resulting in the joint-highest temperature rating of 3.1 degrees.

The new research unveiled includes G7 index temperature ratings alongside key insights into emission target setting in G13 nations. It finds that G7 indexes with a higher share of emissions covered by SBTs result in lower overall temperature ratings.

The factsheet highlights a trend of increasing uptake in SBTs since the G20 Summit in June. Heavy emitters including American Express (US) Heidelberg Cement (Germany) and Yutong Bus (China) have committed to set 1.5 degrees-aligned targets through the SBTi Business Ambition for 1.5C campaign.

However, the leading G7 Index temperature scores have not changed due to few heavy emitting companies advancing emissions reductions.

For instance, Canada’s index has seen a five per cent rise in science-based targets but the temperature rating is still the joint highest with the UK.

No G7 index is aligned with 1.5 degrees.

Alberto Carrillo Pineda, Managing Director and Co-Founder of the SBTi, said: “Our G7 world leaders must introduce ambitious national commitments, and other measures, that incentivise companies to set robust decarbonisation targets while encouraging G13 nations to follow suit.”