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Science Based Targets: Achieving climate and nature aims

The Topline

Addressing nature and biodiversity impact and performance is a key aspect of a successful sustainability strategy.  The Science Based Targets framework and technical guidance could help responsible businesses to achieve their environmental goals.

Ben Sheppard

Ben Sheppard



What do businesses need to know about Science Based Targets?

Thousands of businesses will have heard of the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI).  Since 2015, it has been helping businesses to set emissions reductions targets to inform the formulation and funding of their sustainability strategies and environmental protection projects.

On 24 May 2023, the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) launched the world’s first science-based corporate targets for nature.  These are intended to mobilise businesses to address nature loss across freshwater, land, ocean, biodiversity, and to complement SBTI climate targets.  An initial group of 17 global companies are already piloting the submission of nature targets for validation.  A full rollout to all companies will be made in early 2024.

In July, the SBTN published initial guidance for setting goals around water and land impacts.  Guidance covering target-setting in other areas, such as direct impacts on biodiversity should be available by sometime during 2025.

SBTN’s guidance for nature is based on the recognition that environmental sustainability is not just about managing/reducing levels of carbon dioxide, but also protecting biodiversity and ecosystems. Together, the SBTN and SBTI recommendations should signpost a practical pathway for businesses hoping to mitigate negative environmental impact.

Science Based Targets and sustainability: How we can help

Walker Morris’ Environment Team is a multi-disciplinary group of specialist lawyers experienced in all aspects of the sustainability agenda. We can work with businesses at every step of their journey to create, implement and deliver an effective sustainability strategy.

In particular, we can:

  • Support you through the process of carrying out carbon footprint and life cycle assessments
  • Support you through the process of setting sustainability targets – where appropriate by reference to SBTI and SBTN pathways
  • Carry out audits and contract reviews throughout your business and supply chain
  • Review and implement/draft/update policies and procedures
  • Help you to carry out sustainability due diligence
  • Keep you updated and advised on sustainability-related legal and regulatory developments
  • Advise on, and help with, mandatory and voluntary environmental/sustainability corporate reporting
  • Provide tailored training to staff
  • Help with securing ‘green finance’ and investments based on sustainability criteria
  • Help you with delivering low carbon, sustainability and other green projects
  • Assist with measuring and reporting energy, carbon and climate risks
  • Provide comprehensive, cross-disciplinary advice and transactional assistance
  • Advise on risk management and dispute resolution strategies if/when sustainability queries, concerns or investigations arise.

Our specialist Environment Team can also help businesses with the submission of applications to the relevant authorities for authorisations, licences and consents needed in respect of emissions, discharges and waste management.  We can support negotiations with the relevant enforcement authority where a breach of consent is alleged and regulatory investigations ensue.  In relation to planning and project work, we can guide clients from the purchase of land to the submission of planning applications, review and report on environmental reports, prepare and and co-ordinate environmental impact assessments, and help to manage teams of experts with different technical competences.

Please contact Ben, Rachel or any member of the Environment Team for tailored advice, assistance or training on sustainability/ESG or environmental issues generally.



Infrastructure & Energy

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Regulatory & Compliance

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