When the IPCC released its Fifth Assessment Report earlier this spring, its message was clear: We must do much more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep below 2 °C and limit climate change’s impacts. By presenting the current science, impacts, and options for addressing climate change, the IPCC has laid the groundwork for governments and the private sector to start taking more ambitious action. The next step for companies is to align their own plans with larger climate goals.
Setting greenhouse gas (GHG)-reduction targets has become common practice for large, multi-national companies, but they generally take a conservative approach that is independent of what climate scientists say is necessary. Companies typically set targets based on expected emissions reductions from planned projects, which can limit innovation and ambition. When companies look to organizations such as WRI, CDP and WWF for guidance, we don’t yet have any widely agreed-upon methodology to help them set more ambitious goals in line with climate science.
That’s why WRI, CDP, and WWF recently launched the “Mind the Science, Mind the Gap” initiative. This effort is developing a new, sector-specific methodology that helps companies set science-based emission-reduction targets based on the IPCC decarbonization pathway that would keep global temperature rise below 2 °C. In other words, rather than basing goals on reduction projects a company has in the pipeline, this methodology says “How much do climate scientists and the IPCC recommend reducing emissions in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and how can we meet that challenge?”
The “Mind the Science, Mind the Gap” initiative seeks to raise the ambition of corporate target-setting levels and drive bolder business solutions. The first phase of the project includes developing a target-setting methodology that allows companies to set credible, science-based GHG emissions reduction targets on a company-wide level—with as little effort as possible and consistent with the IPCC 2 °C scenario. WRI, CDP, and WWF will also develop a guidance document later this year. The guidance will review available science-based goal setting methods, recommend how to choose the most appropriate approach, and describe ways to practically implement the method within a company. The second phase of the project, to be launched in 2015, will include outreach and engagement with companies on goal-setting as well as additional activities to track companies’ performance.