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Now that your organization is ready to commit to net zero and understands the best practices to make this commitment credible, the next step is to shape your own net zero targets

Through this step, you will define your year-on-year emission trajectory to align with best-in-class net zero target setting, and use bottom-up analyses to devise a plan for how that trajectory could be achieved.

Image: Key elements of the Net-Zero Standard

Source: SBTi corporate net-zero standard

The output of this step is to have short and long-term targets that match your net zero ambition and provide a detailed roadmap for achieving them. These targets can be interpreted as your year-on-year trajectory to net zero by 2050. This step is critical for enabling your organization to take concrete action (e.g. planning abatement initiatives, budgeting for neutralization through carbon removals) in its net zero journey.

To shape your targets to support your net zero ambition, follow the steps below:

1. How to define a target

The Science Based Target Initiative is recognized as the best practice to set robust near-term and long-term net zero targets. This step will guide you through the key steps for setting SBTi net zero targets.

2. How to assess the feasibility of your target

In setting net zero targets, companies should also assess their ability to implement initiatives to meet these commitments, most notably for short-term targets. This section suggests best practice for internal analysis and consultations to develop a draft decarbonization roadmap to achieve your targets. The process of defining a target and assessing its feasibility is an iterative process to find an appropriate final target.

*Note on iterative nature of setting targets and defining ambition

Image: Iterative target setting

To ensure your target is both aspirational and achievable, shaping a target and revising an ambition may be necessary. This will make sure the aspiration is significantly high while also offering a high likelihood of success, given other conflicting business priorities.

3. Validate your target through a third party

Third party validation of your net zero target by a leading net zero organization is important for giving your target credibility. SBTi net zero targets are best-in-class for third party validation. Identify what standard you want to use before drafting your targets, as they may have different requirements. This section outlines the process to gain third party validation from SBTi.

4. Update your current ambition and targets

Organizations should set targets that are sufficiently robust and achievable that they do not require updates, however, as climate science evolves targets may need to be revised to keep up with research. Significant changes in your business (e.g. merger and acquisition activities, shift in emission profile) may also prompt recalculation and revalidation of your targets.

The SBTi requires targets to be reviewed, and if necessary, revalidated every five years.