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Climate action, not hot air – why your business needs science-based targets

Category : Better business

By setting science-based targets for net zero, you can prove you’re taking action on climate change and lay foundations for sustainable growth.

More and more large companies made commitments to reach net zero emissions last year. But only 16 of the FTSE 100 had a strategy to realistically meet their commitments, EcoAct reported.

I agree with the Carbon Trust that science-based targets are essential if we’re to stay on track and achieve net zero. That’s why at SSE we’re committed to implementing ours.

What are science-based targets?

Science-based targets are goals that businesses set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – Scope 1-3 emissions under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.

Targets are considered “science-based” if they’re aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Defined and validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), they’re now a globally accepted standard for corporate carbon reduction.

Why set science-based targets?

Talking to stakeholders every day, I’m hearing loud and clear what global surveys also tell us: embracing sustainability is no longer optional.

Consumers are demanding action on climate change. Employees are looking for jobs that make a difference. Investor decisions are increasingly driven by environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors.

And regulators worldwide are turning the spotlight on climate-related disclosures. In the UK, reporting aligned to the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) will be mandatory from 2025.

Science-based targets prove you’re delivering on your climate commitments. But they also make great business sense, too – to save money, stimulate innovation and plan for long-term, sustainable growth.

How to set science-based targets?

The SBTi provides a clearly defined step-by-step process for setting targets. You set your initial commitment, develop an emissions reduction plan, submit it to SBTi for validation, then announce your target to stakeholders. After that, you report company-wide emissions and progress against your target every year.

For example, at SSE we’ve committed to reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 from a 2018 base year. The reduction we’ve achieved since 2017/18 is the equivalent of around 2m tonnes of carbon (CO2e).

SSE plc’s carbon emissions by scopes showing gradual decline of the group’s total emissions between 2017 and 2020.

Excluding SSE Energy Services, the domestic supplier now part of OVO Energy

You can track how we’re doing in the SSE plc Sustainability Report. Science-based targets, combined with our commitments aligned to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are now a key element of the SSE Group’s ESG reporting.

Targets for net zero

At SSE, we’re working to drive global change as a Principal Partner for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). We’re expecting renewed commitments from governments to build on the Paris Agreement. That means new demands for us all to work towards net zero.

Now’s the time to review the action your business is taking on climate change. By setting a science-based target, we can all prove our commitments aren’t just hot air, but are driving effective climate action and sustainable growth.

Using SSE’s experience of SDGs and science-based targets, we’re committed to helping you deliver on yours. Watch this space for practical ways your business can reduce emissions and prove you’re making a difference for net zero.


Nikki Flanders

Managing Director of Energy Customer Solutions

Nikki has over 25 years’ experience in Retailing in the broadest sense; from “bricks and mortar” to digital businesses. Nikki started her career with Marks & Spencer before taking up Divisional Director/ C-suite posts with Centrica, Telefonica and Drax (Opus Energy). Nikki joined SSE in 2019 as Managing Director of the Customer division, which provides energy solutions to over 500,000 business supplies across Great Britain from SMEs to large corporates, and over 700,000 homes and businesses across Ireland. SSE has the broadest renewable generation portfolio in the UK, creating a real opportunity to drive change in the energy industry and society. Our Energy Solutions businesses are focused on bridging the gap between our renewable assets and our customer’s businesses. Every day, Nikki and the team are focused on delivering new and innovative ways to make sustainable energy solutions accessible for our customers. Nikki is also a Non-Executive Director for Pendragon Plc.
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