The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) now takes alternative carbon feedstocks into account

Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI)

The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi, provides companies with a science-based methodology for setting CO2 targets that are compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. SBTi is a cooperation between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WIR) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). To date, more than 8,000 companies have participated in SBTi – 50% of them from Europe – and more than 5,500 companies have validated their targets using this methodology. This corresponds to more than a third of global market capitalization. In addition to the general, cross-sector methods, SBTi also develops sector-specific guidelines for companies in industries with high emissions.

In May 2024, SBTi published an open consultation on the draft guidelines for the chemical sector and asked for feedback from external stakeholders and industry experts. This guide is the first to develop sector-specific non-emission indicators to incentivize the substitution of fossil feedstocks with three alternative carbon feedstocks: bio-based, chemically recycled and CCU-based carbon including Direct Air Capture (DAC). This approach does not include the mechanical recycling of plastics, as it is seen as a lever for reducing demand that does not fall within the scope of the chemicals sector. Mechanically recycled plastics cannot be used as a raw material for the chemical industry, but only for the plastics sector.

The targets for alternative raw materials apply to companies that purchase and use carbon-based materials for the manufacture of (chemical) products. The target methodology also sets a minimum expectation for the total percentage of carbon-based raw materials from alternative sources in the target year. This target does not replace the Scope 3 emission targets to ensure that emissions do not increase because other raw materials are used. Companies are encouraged to set more ambitious targets that reflect their transition strategies.

The Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI) strongly welcomes the new draft SBTi, which includes the substitution of fossil carbon in chemicals and derived products with alternative or renewable carbon sources in the future methodology. The SBTi is a major force in shaping the transformation of the industry, and its guidance for the chemical sector emphasizes that the transition to net zero also requires renewable carbon. The RCI believes that this guide will have a strong impact on the defossilization of the chemical industry and can accelerate the introduction of alternative, renewable raw materials. The RCI therefore supports the further development of the Chemical Sector Guidance by providing targeted feedback and suggestions for optimization.

The RCI introduced the concept of renewable carbon in 2020 to develop joint strategies for biomass, CCU and recycling – the only three carbon sources that avoid the extraction of underground fossil carbon, which is subsequently released into the atmosphere as CO₂.

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