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Science Based Disaccord

19 April, 2024

Has the SBTi taken a step forward or made a misstep that could cost the planet? Last week we discussed the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)’s controversial decision to extend the use of Environmental Attribute Certificates (documents certifying specific environmental benefits, such as sustainable land management or the generation of renewable energy) to achieve scope 3 reduction targets. This move has since sparked intense debate across various sectors and within the SBTi itself.

Undoubtedly, the SBTi’s Board of Trustees delivered this bombshell poorly – sidestepping the technical councils input and alleged influence from Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund has not helped matters. However, the initial knee-jerk negative reaction to this news might benefit from further consideration.

Critics argue allowing EACs could enable companies to merely offset rather than reduce emissions, potentially undermining genuine sustainability efforts. There’s fear this could serve as a loophole, leading to continued high emissions under the guise of compliance.

Despite initial backlash, integrating EACs into emissions accounting could be beneficial. Market-based accounting is already standard practice for electricity emissions, using EACs to prove renewable energy purchases, despite mixed grid sources, allowing for zero emissions in accounting. This approach supports funding and incentives for significant carbon reductions in complex global value chains. In industries like food and drink, challenges with tracing direct emission sources hinder investment in farm-level emission reductions. EACs encourage immediate sustainability investments, such as investing in sustainable farm management, enhancing the funding and pace of climate-positive projects and accelerating sector-wide decarbonization by supporting financially challenging innovations.

Although the SBTi should not have excluded key stakeholders from the delivery of this new announcement and must enforce strict guidelines to restore support, dismissing EACs risks ignoring a crucial tool for combating climate change.

By Nia Vines

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