28 Mar 2022

You had an SBTi approved plan – then the new Net Zero framework dropped – now what?

By Joe Venables
Building with cascading green plants on the sides

If you had an SBTi approved plan and were left without a clear direction after the new Net Zero framework dropped, we’ve put together some next steps.

In November 2021 the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) published the Corporate Net Zero Standard.

This is the world’s first Net Zero framework for organisations looking to set carbon emission targets that match the timescales and level of ambition demanded by climate science and the IPCC.

The IPCC’s special report states deep carbon reductions are necessary by 2030 with close to zero emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

These principles are closely followed in the SBTi’s framework where the steps below must be followed before a business achieves Net Zero status:

  • Significant near-term emission reductions by 2030
  • Long-term 90% reduction in value chain emissions by 2050
  • Offset residual emissions only when target reductions are achieved

What next?

The new Net Zero framework might seem like a daunting prospect for businesses looking to update their existing Science Based Target or develop a a new target.

Setting a target may seem complex however it should not be a barrier to ambition. Breaking the target setting process into steps engages stakeholders and ensures a Net Zero strategy aligns with long term business goals in addition to reducing carbon.

On top of setting a Science Based Target organisations should also consider signing up to the B Corp Climate Collective, a member of the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign. The signatories to this umbrella coalition account for nearly 25% of global emissions and have a mandate to work together, build momentum and facilitate the global transition to a low carbon future.

How to set a Net Zero Target

1. Understand the landscape

There are different Science Based Target options for SMEs, large organisations and financial institutions. Discussing relevant options is an essential first step in the target-setting process. It is also helpful to consider the actions of peers, as well as policy and legislation that will support your efforts.

2. Identify emission sources

Identify all Scope 1, 2 and 3 emission sources in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to ensure all relevant sources are included in the footprint. Create a plan for collecting information, determine responsibilities and locate data sources. It is important to engage with external stakeholders at this stage to facilitate smooth information exchange.

Identifying emission sources is a necessary step when developing a new target and is also an opportunity to review existing processes if updating an existing Science Based Target.

3. Calculate emissions

Prioritise progress over perfection when collecting data, calculating emissions, and setting targets. It is best to focus efforts on material emission sources that can be influenced and reduced. Poor quality or missing data should not be a barrier when setting targets, provided there is a plan to improve data quality and ultimately reduce emissions going forward.

4. Develop Net Zero Pathway and Action Plan

Create an emission reduction pathway that incorporates global decarbonisation as well as both planned and additional carbon reduction measures.

As with emission calculation, it is best to prioritise significant emission sources that can be influenced, measured and reduced.

Important points to consider when developing a pathway are:

  • Purchasing and generating renewable electricity
  • Improving efficiency, change-in-use and low carbon alternatives
  • The role and anticipated cost of offsetting residual emissions
  • Reducing absolute carbon emissions while allowing the business to grow

Once this is complete, organisations can submit their Net Zero target to the SBTi with confidence that their Net Zero plans are robust, achievable and most importantly reduce carbon in line with climate science.

Going forward organisations must annually disclose their progress and are encouraged to share their challenges as well as their achievements.


Setting a Science-Based Net Zero target is an opportunity to take a long-term view and assess how physical carbon risks will affect your business. This is a chance to plan for this transition, identify new sustainable revenue streams and change your business for the better.

Over 1,000 organisations have already set Science-Based Targets, with approximately 80% making further commitments to Net Zero. In addition, over 5,000 organisations and over 1,700 B Corps have also committed to the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero.

It is important to remember that climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution, where no party operates in isolation. Now is the time for organisations to be bold, ambitious and to work together, towards a common goal of limiting climate change.

Seismic is passionate about preparing businesses for a low carbon future and has over 47 years of collective carbon consulting experience. If you have any questions about Science Based Targets, Net Zero or carbon footprinting then please get in touch. We are here to help!