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Aligning corporate greenhouse-gas emissions targets with climate goals

Abstract

Corporate climate action is increasingly considered important in driving the transition towards a low-carbon economy1. For this, it is critical to ensure translation of global goals to greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets at company level2,3. At the moment, however, there is a lack of clear methods to derive consistent corporate target setting that keeps cumulative corporate GHG emissions within a specific carbon budget (for example, 550–1,300 GtCO2 between 2011 and 2050 for the 2 °C target4). Here we propose a method for corporate emissions target setting that derives carbon intensity pathways for companies based on sectoral pathways from existing mitigation scenarios: the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach (SDA). These company targets take activity growth and initial performance into account. Next to target setting on company level, the SDA can be used by companies, policymakers, investors or other stakeholders as a benchmark for tracking corporate climate performance and actions, providing a mechanism for corporate accountability.

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Figure 1: Targets for six hypothetical steel companies.

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Acknowledgements

The target-setting approach proposed in this article is developed as a part of the Science Based Targets initiative; a collaborative effort of CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI), and WWF. The authors would like to thank the International Energy Agency for providing the data of their 2DS scenario.

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Contributions

O.K. acquired, analysed and interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. G.L. and K.B. designed and led the study and contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data. W.C.-G., N.H. and D.P.v.V. critically reviewed the manuscript. P.F., N.A. and A.C.P. contributed to developing the methodological approach and aided in improving the mathematical formulae.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Giel Linthorst.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Krabbe, O., Linthorst, G., Blok, K. et al. Aligning corporate greenhouse-gas emissions targets with climate goals. Nature Clim Change 5, 1057–1060 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2770

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