Explained: What is the SBTi’s Land Transport Guidance?

The SBTi’s updated Land Transport Guidance aligns automakers’ largest source of emissions – Scope 3 Category 11 (indirect use-phase emissions) – with 1.5°C

By the end of 2023, more than 4,000 companies were leading the transition to a net-zero economy by setting emissions reduction goals and having them validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Logistics giants Maersk and Kintetsu World Express are just a couple of the major players in the supply chain space to see their targets approved by the SBTi in recent months, while countless others are being supported in their bid to contribute towards a greener future. 

Supply chains have, in the past, been billed by the SBTi as the “missing link” for corporate climate action. After all, according to climate research specialist CDP, businesses emit 11.4 times more Scope 3 emissions – those emitted throughout the supply chain – than direct emissions. 

Last year, in a bid to accelerate decarbonisation efforts, the organisation published fresh guidance to support companies to engage their supply chains to set science-based targets. 

With an even more specific focus is its Land Transport Guidance, which has been updated with a new method for automakers to set 1.5°C emissions reduction targets.

This would help them meet the Paris Agreement’s headline commitment: to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C.

SBTi aligns automakers’ Scope 3 emissions with 1.5°C

Clearly, automakers are key to global mobility systems and the economy, but are also a major contributor of greenhouse gases. 

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), private cars and vans were responsible for more than 25% of global oil use and around 10% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2022

What’s more, diesel and petrol vehicles are also a major source of harmful air pollutants, with the World Health Organization (WHO) saying an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths were caused by air pollution in 2019 alone.

Now, for the first time, the SBTi’s updated Land Transport Guidance aligns automakers’ largest source of emissions – Scope 3 Category 11 (indirect use-phase emissions) – with 1.5°C, covering the emissions of vehicles after they are sold.

This includes a pledge to work towards the phase out of petrol and diesel for cars and vans by 2035 in leading markets including Europe, Asia-Pacific, the US, Canada, the UK, South Korea and Japan.

“As a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, automakers hold a pivotal role in driving the transformation to a net-zero economy and cleaning up the air in our cities,” explains Alberto Carrillo Pineda, Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of the SBTi. 

“To address the climate crisis, it’s critical that automakers adopt zero-emission vehicles at a pace consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The Land Transport Guidance reflects the scientific imperative for this critical transformation.”

Updating the Land Transport Guidance is an interim step towards the SBTi establishing an Automotive Standard for automakers

Establishing an Automotive Standard

Updating the Land Transport Guidance is an interim step towards the SBTi establishing an Automotive Standard for automakers. 

This includes a rationale for the 1.5°C target-setting method for automakers and a summary of the criteria for other land transport activities already covered in the guidance that remain unchanged.

To develop the Automotive Standard, the SBTi is set to open a call for applications for representatives to join a new expert advisory group. Stakeholders will also be invited to comment on draft versions of the standard during public consultations later in the year.

Automakers with commitments that expire up to six months from the release of the updated Land Transport Guidance must submit targets within this period. 

Companies in the sector that have set targets thus far will remain compliant, but are being encouraged by the SBTi to recalculate them to increase ambition.

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