The United Kingdom has emerged as a key player in the global push for science-based environmental targets, says a recent report by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The report, published on 17 August 2023, reveals that the UK saw the second-highest number of companies setting science-based targets in 2022, marking a significant surge in corporate commitment to combat climate change.

By the end of 2022, an impressive 45 companies from the UK FTSE 100 had established science-based targets. Furthermore, an additional 24 companies had made commitments to set such targets in the near future. As a result, a total of 69% of FTSE 100 companies had either implemented or pledged to implement science-based targets by the close of 2022.

Globally, the report indicates an 87% increase in the number of companies setting science-based targets in 2022, totalling 1,097 companies. This number is greater than the cumulative total for the previous seven years, which stood at 1,082.

Luiz Amaral, CEO of SBTi, commented on the findings, stating, “This annual update from the SBTi shows the enormous demand from the business world for credible, ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. From catastrophic floods in Pakistan to deadly heatwaves in Europe in 2022 demonstrated, the human and economic costs of climate change are already being felt around the world. Companies must act now.”

SBTi progress on a global scale

On a global scale, corporate engagement with environmental initiatives is on the rise. By the end of 2022, companies representing more than one-third (34%) of the global economy in terms of market capitalisation had either established or pledged to establish science-based targets.

Japan stands out as a leader in this movement, with the highest number of companies setting targets compared to any other country. These companies accounted for 40% of the NIKKEI index by the end of 2022. Across Asia, significant growth was evident, with a remarkable 127% surge in companies establishing science-based targets in 2022. China, in particular, exhibited the highest increase, with a staggering 194% rise in the number of validated companies.

The materials sector saw notable expansion, marked by a 160% increase in companies setting targets. The leading sectors involved services, manufacturing, and infrastructure, collectively accounting for over 60% of businesses setting targets. Conversely, sectors such as power generation, biotech, healthcare & pharma, and hospitality demonstrated slower growth in adopting science-based targets.

These findings underline the growing commitment of companies worldwide to address climate change by setting science-based environmental targets, reflecting a broader shift toward sustainable practices in the corporate sector.