7 years of SBTI: insights and predictions

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Here’s an excerpt from this piece by Jeff Gowdy, who has served for 7 years on the Science Based Targets (SBT) Technical Advisory Group:

Insight #3: The rate of change in goal setting is accelerating but still way below where we need to be.

The number of companies setting an SBTI commitment and/or target (it’s a two-step process) is now more than 2,200, roughly doubling in the past year. This is great news. The bad news is that there are about 50,000 large corporations in the world, which means we still have very far to go to align our global economy with planetary thresholds for emissions (and other ESG topics).

Insight #4: Company reticence to explicitly reference the science used to develop their goals may be related to the rise in the general questioning of science.

In our Pivot Goals data, while the number of science-based targets has increased year over year, less than 1% of companies explicitly reference or attribute their goals to the underpinning science. Doubtless, many of the unattributed goals were developed based on legitimate, peer-reviewed science, but the fact that so few companies reference their scientific sources is discouraging and leaves the interested reader or stakeholder with an incomplete view.

Insight #5: Skepticism of science is troubling, especially given the fact that our scientific knowledge is growing exponentially.

As an engineering and then MBA student, my education was steeped in science. Science is a process of endless questioning: what we know at one point in time is continually superseded by what we learn through the questioning and investigative process. Galileo questioned the Church and entrenched science of his time, particularly the notion that the sun revolved around the earth, and he paid dearly for his discoveries. Could it be that there is an underlying fear of “the new” as more data is gathered and more analyses applied? It’s hard to convince people that what they have believed their whole lives is wrong—and this resistance is having major consequences for human and planetary health.