Companies have the most control over their scope 1 and 2 emissions. For most, scope 3 emissions are the most difficult for an organization to measure and reduce. But scope 3 emissions typically make up the majority of a company’s carbon footprint. For example, online retailer Etsy’s public CDP disclosure of its reduction targets declares its 2019 scope 1 and 2 emissions to be 1,023  metric tons CO2e. Its scope 3 emissions that year were 152 times larger.

The companies with the best emission reduction targets

We’ve gathered data on those 243 companies on the cutting edge of cutting emissions, via SBTi itself and by scouring disclosure reports on their partner site, CDP. On top of having approved reduction targets, each of these companies has a net-zero commitment. That means they’re planning to set goals to cut almost all emissions across all scopes by 2050 (offsets are allowed to count against the last few percentage points once the company has eliminated everything else).

But 2050 is decades away, and companies need to start acting now. So, the SBTi requires near-term targets along that path to zero.

We’ve visualized their near-term targets for scope 1 and scope 2 emission, below. Though their target years vary, all companies plan to make their reductions before 2035.

These data provide a starting point for understanding and comparing corporate ambition. However, we’re far from having a simple way to judge companies on equal terms. The particulars of each firm’s net-zero commitments vary. Even in this ambitious group of companies, some:

Are corporate climate commitments working?

Many of these targets have only been validated recently, so it’s difficult to judge whether companies are keeping up with their commitments. Yet, the data show “that companies who have set targets with the SBTi are well on their way to achieving them,” Huusko said. SBTi’s 2020 progress report found that companies with approved targets at the time reduced their emissions by 25% between 2015 and 2019.

The organization is planning to publish another progress report in 2022 along with a new reporting and verification framework for companies.

There is no financial penalty for companies that don’t disclose their progress or realize their commitments. SBTi will remove companies that don’t follow up from the initiative.

Huusko hopes signing on will soon become the new normal for companies, noting, “It took nearly 4 years to reach 500 companies taking action, but only about 4 months to increase from 1,500 companies to 2,000.”

With assistance from Tim McDonnell.

This article was updated to clarify that most of the companies have not yet set net-zero targets, but have made commitments to do so.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.