SBTi FLAG Guidance

On September 28th 2022 the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) launched the long-awaited addition to its expanding sector guidance portfolio. The Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) guidance was made publicly available to be used by industry leaders of land-intensive sectors. By using this guidance, they can further work on reaching climate neutrality. Since 2019, the guidance was already in development. It involved technical experts in agriculture, forestry, and other land use sector, as well as a group of corporate representatives. FLAG is also closely aligned with the (currently draft-phase) GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals guidance, which targets accounting for land-based greenhouse gas removals. This close collaboration ensures that the guidance would be robust, clear, and practical for companies that intend to set their targets in near future.

The urgency of sector guidance and the contribution of FLAG

This publication marks the first time a guideline was published to allow this specific sector to set science-based targets. Following these steps enables companies’ alignment with the 1.5 degrees pathway outlined by Paris Agreement in 2016. It is an important change toward ensuring that the greenhouse gas intensive sector of agriculture, forestry, and land use (which currently accounts for 22% of total GHG emissions) can be steered in a sustainable and measurable manner.

FLAG guidance covers not only emission reduction but also removal potential that is key to the industry. The agriculture, forestry and other land use sector is not only capable of reducing emissions but is also capable of actively removing and storing (sequestering) carbon emissions. By successful utilization of the sector capabilities, 37% of the emission reduction and removal required by 2030 can be achieved. The FLAG guidance is crucial to kick-start such ambition.

The key requirements of FLAG science-based targets

Along with the publication of the guidance, SBTi shared the 5 key requirements that should be aligned with while setting an SBTi target following FLAG.

  1. Near-term FLAG science-based targets must be set (5–10 year emission targets in line with the Paris 1.5 degrees pathway)
  2. Accounting for removals in near-term FLAG science-based targets (including areas such as improvement of forest management, improving soil carbon sequestration and more, in accordance with GHG Land Sector and Removals Guidance)
  3. Setting a long-term FLAG target (forest, agriculture and other land use sector companies are expected to reduce at least 74% of emissions by 2050, following FLAG guidance).
  4. Zero deforestation targets must be set for no later than 2025 by participating companies
  5. Science-based targets must be set for fossil emissions (meaning, both FLAG targets and SBTi targets must be set, as all companies emit fossil fuel gases during their operations).

Note: FLAG does not replace already established SBT scope 1 & 2 guidance but is an addition for relevant companies that fall under the FLAG classification.

Companies currently applying for SBTi-validated targets must also set FLAG targets (if they meet the relevant threshold criteria). Companies with already validated Science Based Targets will have to align with the FLAG guidance during their following validation cycle at the latest.

The importance of setting FLAG aligned targets as a company

Considering the increasing demand for agricultural, forest and land use products and services projected in the coming years, it is important to ensure the reduction of land emissions. With FLAG guidance set in place and readily available for the land-intensive sector, it is now easier to align with emission pathways that are aimed to prevent near-future climate disasters.

As an environmentally ambitious company that do business within the Forest, Land and Agriculture sector, the FLAG guidance presents an opportunity to set science-based targets. With our experience in assisting numerous companies with setting SBTi-verified targets, our consultants can support you with your next steps towards climate neutrality. Reach out to us and we will be happy to assist you with these next steps.

Authors
Gustas Sudintas

Gustas Sudintas

Consultant, Sustainalize

Ligia Alencar

Consultant, Sustainalize/ERM

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our colleagues if you need any help or assistance in the process.

Published on: 11 oktober 2022

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