More than 100 companies removed from global gold standard corporate sustainability scheme for failing to set climate goals in time

The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) recruits companies to set “science-based” carbon reduction goals in line with the demands of the Paris climate agreement. After signing up businesses are required to submit climate targets to an expert panel for assessment within two years.  Firms including Honda Motor Company and National Express among those removed from the Science-Based Targets scheme for failing to set climate goals in time. Madeleine Cuff discusses latest developments in an article on the inews website.


More than 100 companies kicked off corporate climate scheme for missing deadline to set carbon goals

More than 100 companies, including builder’s merchants Travis Perkins, Japanese carmaker Honda, and travel company National Express have been removed from a gold standard corporate sustainability scheme for failing to set climate goals in good time.

The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) recruits companies to set “science-based” carbon reduction goals in line with the demands of the Paris climate agreement. After signing up businesses are required to submit climate targets to an expert panel for assessment within two years.

Participating companies enjoy a boost to their reputation – a recent survey by SBTi found almost 80 per cent of member companies said their brand reputation was strengthened after joining, and more than 50 per cent said their SBTi membership boosted investor confidence.

But according to evidence obtained by i, a significant proportion of companies signing up to SBTi are failing to submit any climate goals by the deadlines set by SBTi, even after being awarded up to 12 months of extra time to submit.

The SBTi told i 119 companies have been removed from the initiative since 2015, including 57 firms in March this year. Alongside Travis Perkins, Honda Motor Company, and National Express, the list also includes pushchair company Bugaboo, and One Jeanswear Group, the US firm behind denim brands Nine West Jeans and Jessica Simpson.

The firms had all been given two years to submit targets, plus an additional six- or 12-month extension.

Paola Delgado, corporate engagement manager in the Science Based Targets initiative, admitted to i that some “opportunistic” companies sign up to the SBTi with little intention of setting stringent climate targets.

But she stressed that fewer than ten per cent of the companies which have joined the scheme since it began in 2015 have been removed, insisting most signatories go on to set ambitious goals.

Many of the firms which have been struck off the list are small and medium-sized firms without the resources to properly set science-based climate goals, she explained. Corporate restructuring is another major reason why corporates fail to submit pledges, she added.

Some of those firms removed from the list have gone on to set science-based goals. Those that do are allowed to rejoin the initiative, but with little fanfare.

Paints and coatings firm AkzoNobel was removed from the SBTi’s membership list in January this year, but last week submitted its targets to the SBTi panel for validation. “Setting a target like this really matters,” says AkzoNobel CEO Thierry Vanlancker. “It’s a clear signal that we’re preparing to mobilize our teams globally and take stronger action to tackle climate change.”

Travis Perkins told i it did not submit science-based targets in time because of “company and personnel changes”. It submitted its goals for validation earlier this month, more than five years after it first joined SBTi. “Climate change concerns us all, and the Travis Perkins plc board and Group Leadership Team are fully behind the ambitious targets which we have now submitted to the Science-Based Targets Initiative,” a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile pram maker Bugaboo said it will deliver its targets to the expert panel by the end of September, more than three years after joining SBTi. “We are confident our work behind the scenes will pay off in approved targets because reducing our impact on the environment has always been part of our DNA,” a spokesperson told i.

National Express told i it had decided to follow a different approach to that of the SBTi. “National Express Group has clear climate reduction targets with ambitious goals to operate a fully zero emission fleet – by 2030 in our UK bus business and by 2035 in our UK coach business,” a spokesperson stressed.

Honda Motor Company and One Jeanswear Group did not respond to comment requests for this article.

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