Start at the beginning

When devising a decarbonisation strategy, businesses need to set clear and ambitious targets. It is essential that these targets are based on climate science and aligned with the wider global time frame of reducing global emissions by 2050 (Science Based Targets, n.d.). Clear targets allow the business to track its progress towards a net zero goal and set a roadmap for it to follow. They can also be used to indicate the purpose of decarbonisation steps and strategies to employees, supply chain partners and other stakeholders (CISL, 2020).

Once a business has set clear goals and targets and determined appropriate metrics these also need to be published. It is essential that there is transparency with all organisational stakeholders, employees, board members, investors and the greater supply chain (CISL, 2020). This allows stakeholders to hold the business accountable to its goals.

However, it is not only immediate stakeholders that should be informed. Businesses should also ensure that their targets and goals are more broadly communicated. By publishing a sustainability report or ensuring that its decarbonisation goals are clearly outlined on its website, a business can enable customers, or potential customers, to gain a better understanding of the level of ambition that the business has signed up to. This can improve customer sentiment and brand reputation (if the commitments are upheld). These customers may be final consumers or downstream industries seeking to decarbonise their Scope 2 inputs and suppliers.

Furthermore, public targets can increase accountability both within the business and through external pressure (Domingues et al., 2017). Even when published targets are missed, they still serve a purpose by prompting retrospective analysis and providing an incentive to update and adjust business strategies.


The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a global, collaborative initiative focused on helping businesses set emissions reduction targets in line with climate science and the Paris Agreement. It does this by defining and promoting best practice and conducting independent assessment and validation of targets. By January 2022, over 1,100 companies worldwide had set approved targets using the SBTi approach (Science Based Targets, n.d.).

In 2021, the SBTi launched the world’s first Corporate Net Zero Standard, designed to provide businesses with clear guidance and criteria for setting both short- and long-term net zero targets.

Explore further:

The following examples are among a small group of global businesses to have SBTi-validated net zero targets. Take a look at the ones that interest you and reflect on their approach to setting and communicating their targets: