It’s 10am, you and I are at the office in Milwaukee, when we’re suddenly called to an urgent client meeting… in Gary, Indiana at two. Rats! We had lunch plans at that cool taco stand.
Gary is 120 miles away and , if we leave at eleven, we can cruise the scenic route at 40 mph with plenty of cushion. Unwisely, I stop to check with Bill about those reports and, poof! There goes fifty minutes.
Now it’s noon and we must average 60 mph to make it on time. You’re checking your watch but relax. If traffic’s okay, we’ll get there fine.
Except I left my bag and phone upstairs. Now it’s 12:30 but don’t worry, we can still make it at 80 mph, a dime over the limit. And that’s when the CEO buttonholes me at the elevator.
Now it’s one o’clock and you’re banging the elevator buttons. My new hybrid would have to average 120 mph just to give us a fighting chance. Not going to happen… it’s not a hybrid Ferrari!
The moral of this fable: if you wait longer, you will have to go faster and may run into the organizational equivalent of getting pulled over for speeding. There will be less leeway for problems or roadblocks, no flexibility, more resources needed, and less time to pivot. And that brings us to Science Based Targets (SBTs).
As we wrote in January, more and more companies have committed to a science-based target (SBT) – 805 as of this writing – and that’s a good thing. However, as we also noted, that means hundreds of thousands of companies in the U.S. alone have not yet done so.
Moreover, of those forward-looking companies, only 332 have actually set a target and had it approved. We’re not sure what the other 473 are waiting for, but we do know there’s a cost for such dragging of feet and that, the longer they wait, the higher that cost will be.
In fact, we’ve developed a tool specifically to help companies select science-based targets, and to plan for their achievement. Our Science Based Target Tool calculates, among other things, the percentage of annual reduction – of water, carbon, energy, etc. – that will be needed based on the timeline set for completion.
Let’s say your company decides to reduce carbon emissions by 50% beginning this year, with a plan to achieve it by 2030 – the outside limit for holding the line on climate according to the IPCC.
Great! Good call, and if you indeed start right away, you’ll have a full decade to reach your target and your Required Annual Reduction (RAR) will be a manageable 6.7% each year for the next ten years.
But wait a year to get going and that number goes up to 7.4%
Say you are overtaken by events and the carbon can is kicked two years down the road to 2022, what then? Turns out your required RAR has risen almost a full point and is now 8.3%.
Yet a third year of foot-dragging raises it to 9.4% and a full four years on it’s become a huge challenge, with a necessary reduction to reach your target of 10.9% annually.
As for the client meeting? Never got there. We were pulled over for speeding a mile out of Pleasant Prairie.
But hey, there’s a taco place just outside Waukegan and by now, some enchiladas and a Margarita would go down nicely!