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Explainer: What Is SBTi?

CSL has committed to set near-term companywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions targets, in line with climate science, with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Learn more about SBTi, a partnership among organizations focused on a healthier, more sustainable planet.

The planet earth

As companies like CSL consider their impact on the planet, you might wonder how they determine which steps to take to contribute to a healthier, more sustainable environment.

The nonprofit Science-Based initiative (SBTi) guides these choices for thousands of companies, including CSL, a global biotech that makes medicines and vaccines. Formed in 2015, SBTi helps companies along their journeys by providing SBTi-approved targets.

The organization describes itself as “a global body enabling businesses to set ambitious emissions reductions targets in line with the latest climate science.” According to SBTi, “science-based targets are undeniably good for the planet” and also are good for business because they boost a brand’s reputation, address investor concerns, drive innovation and save money.

CSL is in what SBTi calls the commitment stage, having signed a commitment letter to SBTi saying it will set targets. With this action, CSL committed to set near-term companywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions targets, in line with climate science, with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The company seeks to submit its targets for validation to SBTi in July.

Targets aligned with SBTi have a number in mind: 1.5℃. Using temperatures recorded before the Industrial Revolution as a benchmark, scientists say the surface of the Earth needs to stay below this 1.5℃ threshold to avoid climate change calamity. In 2015, 196 nations came together and signed the Paris Agreement. The agreement sought to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

Also in 2015, the SBTi formed with founding members the United  Nations Global Compact, CDP, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The SBTi defines emissions into categories called “scopes.”

Scope 1 means emissions from facilities or equipment controlled or owned by the company. The company directly creates these emissions, which are associated with fuel combustion from boilers, furnaces, vehicles and other equipment.

Scope 2 emissions are not directly produced by the company but come mostly from the utilities that generate its power. These emissions are created in the production of the electricity, steam, heating and cooling that a company purchases.

In 2022, CSL announced that it intends to cut 40% of its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions against a baseline of the average annual emissions during the fiscal years 2019 through 2021.

Learn more about Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

And then there is Scope 3, a complex category because it covers suppliers and other businesses that service the reporting entity. It includes categories like purchased goods and services; capital goods; fuel and energy-related activities not covered by Scope 1 or 2; all upstream and downstream transportation; employee commuting; and business travel. CSL previously announced plans to ensure suppliers who contribute 67% of Scope 3 emissions have set their own Scope 1 and 2 reduction targets, aligned with the SBTi.

Renewable energy is part of CSL’s sustainability strategy. In October, CSL announced a seven-year agreement with energy supplier AGL. CSL will match 100% of the electricity used by its Australian manufacturing sites with renewable energy certificates. With the addition of the AGL agreement, beginning in January 2025, CSL will reduce its global Scope 1 and 2 emissions by approximately 23% from that emissions baseline.

SBTi says companies with approved targets for reducing emissions are already having a positive impact though there’s much more to be done. Scientists on loan from some founding members, including the WRI and WWF, looked at data between 2015 and 2020 and found that companies with approved targets reduced some greenhouse emissions by 29%, 4% more than between 2015 and 2019.