How to set science-based targets for SMEs

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the rising demand and need for corporate sustainability programs. Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can sometimes lack the resources and capabilities that large companies have when creating and implementing sustainability strategies, specifically around setting carbon reduction targets 

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) recognized that burden, and introduced an expedited option for SMEs that want to set a carbon reduction target that aligns with the most up-to-date scientific guidelines, while also providing a reasonable timeframe for an SME to reduce their emissions over time and ultimately reach net zero. 

Is Your Company Eligible?

The SBTi defines an SME as a non-subsidiary, independent company with fewer than 500 employees by headcount. If your company has seasonal workers or a workforce that fluctuates annually, SBTi asks that you use the average annual headcount to determine employee numbers rather than the number of full-time employees. It is important to note that currently, the SBTi does not include financial institutions or oil & gas companies in this definition. 


What does the target-validation process look like?

There are 5 steps that SMEs need to complete: 

  1. Complete SME target setting form – this is a Google Form that collects your company’s general information and an SBTi pre-determined target you selected and any criteria-related questions. 
  2. Due diligence and target approval - a team of experts at SBTi will review your company’s form to ensure the information is complete and the target is accurate. When the due diligence is approved, you will get an email confirmation of the target along with Terms and Conditions to be signed and sent back. 
  3. Invoicing fee and payment – SBTi will send details for a one-time payment. This fee can be waived if an SME is headquartered in a developing country or an economy in transition. Visit the UN Secretariat's Department of Economic and Social Affairs website for the full definition.  
  4. Payment verification and target confirmation – the SBTi Finance team will verify your payment then you will receive a final confirmation with the approval and registration of the target you selected. SBTi also provides a communications pack that outlines the target publication. 
  5. Target Publication - targets get published on the SBTi website, as well as partner websites; CDP and We Mean Business.     

What is the SBTi?

The SBTi is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).  SBTi strives to mobilize the private sector’s fight against climate change by guiding companies through the target setting process and providing sector-specific clarity on greenhouse gas emissions and reduction efforts. SBTi is backed by industry leading experts that set science-based targets in line with the most recent climate science. 


Interested in getting started? We can help!

RPS can assist you through every step of the process: collecting and calculating GHG emissions, establishing a baseline, setting science-based targets, developing an action plan to reduce emissions, and purchasing offsets. Contact us today to schedule a call and discuss your needs: 


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