Agribusiness companies take climate action using science-based targets

The Science Based Targets initiative provides guidance for companies setting decarbonization targets in line with the Paris Agreement. Specific guidance for forest, land, and agriculture emissions – known as the SBTi FLAG Guidance – is helping food and agribusiness companies to set science-based targets according to their unique sector needs and greenhouse gas emissions profile.

In September 2022, the Science Based Targets initiative released its Forest, Land and Agriculture (SBTi FLAG) Guidance version 1. The FLAG Guidance stated that total global FLAG net emissions should be reduced by ~72% by 2050 to align with the Paris Agreement goal. The FLAG Guidance states that companies should achieve about a 30% reduction of their FLAG greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2020 and 2030. The guidance offers both a generic sector decarbonization target approach, as well as a more granular commodity- and region-specific approach.

The guidance incorporates GHG emissions mitigation practices that can reduce on-farm climate impacts. But the more important contribution is that its target-setting guidance also incorporates emissions arising from direct and indirect land-use change, as well as on-farm carbon sequestration opportunities. So far, a few dozen food & agribusiness (F&A) companies have committed and/or validated SBTi reduction targets that include their FLAG (mostly scope 3) emissions. Near-term targets are achievable with existing technologies and practices but at a cost.

Finally, besides private sector initiatives regarding climate disclosures and target setting, more legislation is being implemented, such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, both in the EU. The first requires companies to disclose their GHG emissions and target (if they have one). For the latter, companies can turn to the SBTi for guidance on how to set science-based, 1.5-degree-Celsius, Paris-aligned targets.