Target Suppliers and Science-Based Targets: Achieving Scope 1 & 2 Compliance

Target Corporation has ushered in a transformative requirement for the largest 80% of its suppliers: the establishment of scope 1 and scope 2 Science-Based Targets.

If this announcement has you wondering, “What exactly does this mean for my organization?” you’re in the right place. We’re here to clear up any confusion and guide you through this critical transition. Let’s unpack what these targets entail, why they’re crucial in today’s climate-focused business landscape, and how you can adeptly integrate them into your business strategy, to meet Target’s evolving sustainability standards for suppliers.

Target’s Sustainability Goals & Commitments

In 2017, Target Corporation took decisive steps toward embracing comprehensive climate solutions and publicly announced a new climate policy in line with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to reduce scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Building on this foundation, in 2019, Target expanded these goals, setting ambitious reduction targets that extend throughout their entire supply chain.

This progression was part of a larger vision to minimize their direct environmental footprint and drive sustainable practices across the global network of suppliers and partners. By 2023, Target aims for 80% of its suppliers by spend to establish science-based targets for scope 1 and 2 emissions, a move that highlights the company’s commitment to playing a pivotal role in global climate action. This initiative underscores Target’s belief in the power of collective action; engaging its suppliers in these efforts amplifies its impact far beyond its direct operations. Specifically, it will help Target meet its goal of achieving a 30% absolute reduction in supply chain emissions (scope 3) covering retail purchased goods and services from a 2017 baseline year by 2030. 

Moreover, Target’s sustainability strategy closely aligns with the Paris Climate Agreement, underscoring its global responsibility. The company actively collaborates with industry experts to ensure that its targets and methods are not only ambitious but also scientifically grounded and achievable. Through these efforts, Target is not just transforming its own operations but is also setting a precedent in the retail industry, demonstrating that business success and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand.

To date, Target has made notable strides in its journey toward environmental stewardship. The company is on track to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030, a goal underscored by their recent achievement: as of FY2022, 60% of their electricity now comes from renewable sources.

Looking ahead, in addition to achieving a 30% absolute reduction in supply chain emissions by 2030, Target has set ambitious milestones to further reduce its environmental impact:

  • By the start of 2024, the company expects 80% of its suppliers, accounting for all purchased goods and services, to set science-based targets for scopes 1 and 2 emissions.
  • By 2025, Target is committed to engaging with suppliers to prioritize renewable energy and to collaborate on initiatives that protect, sustain, and restore nature.
  • Additionally, by 2025, Target plans to have 100% of its owned brands, including limited-edition and brand partnerships, comply with its established sustainability standards.

Most telling, by 2040, Target aspires to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its entire enterprise, encompassing scopes 1, 2, and 3.

(For a comprehensive overview of Target’s sustainability goals, their corporate sustainability page offers a full list.)

Why is Target Setting Science-Based Targets and Emphasizing Sustainability?

Target’s adoption of science-based targets and an intensified focus on sustainability is a direct reaction to evolving global environmental trends and alarming scientific findings. The company acknowledges the influence of reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that human activities have been a significant driver of climate change. This situation brings us alarmingly close to a critical juncture – a potential 1.5°C rise in global temperatures within the next two decades. Exceeding this threshold would have catastrophic implications, posing severe threats to our planet, economic stability, and societal well-being.

Recognizing the gravity of this situation, Target has pledged to become a net zero enterprise by 2040. This ambitious goal involves achieving net zero emissions across all facets of its operations and supply chain, encompassing scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions. To maintain transparency and accountability, Target has established science-based targets (SBTs) for the near term, aiming for significant emission reductions by 2030.

A critical aspect of these efforts focuses on the supply chain, where the majority of Target’s emissions originate. The company has set a dual objective: achieving an absolute reduction in scope 3 emissions and driving supplier engagement. By the start of 2024, Target expects 80% of its suppliers, both in retail and non-retail, to set their own SBTs. This approach ensures that emission reductions in the supply chain align with the pace needed to prevent further global temperature increases. And, as noted previously, it helps Target achieve a 30% absolute reduction in supply chain emissions by 2030. 

Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO of Target, emphasizes the holistic nature of this strategy: “Our new climate goals will reduce our carbon footprint from source to shelf, as we work alongside our partners within our supply chain to lower emissions and help create a better tomorrow. We have a responsibility to our guests and the environment to set high expectations and encourage ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, promoting positive change throughout the industry to have an even greater impact for generations to come.”

Target’s Science-Based Target Requirements for Suppliers

Target’s ambition to achieve net zero emissions is a journey that necessitates collaboration across its supply chain. Recognizing that their scope 3 emissions are intrinsically linked to their suppliers’ scope 1 and 2 emissions, Target is keen on comprehensively understanding these emissions. 

To facilitate this, Target mandates the top 80% of its suppliers by spending, including all purchased goods and services, to set science-based targets for their scope 1 and 2 emissions. This requirement is a pivotal part of Target’s strategy to address its comprehensive emission footprint, harnessing the collective influence of its supply chain to fulfill environmental objectives.

The criteria are as follows:

Science-Based Target (SBT) Criteria

  • Scope: The SBT must cover at least 95% of your company-wide emissions (scope 1 and 2)
  • Timeframe: The target year is 5-10 years from the date the target is submitted
  • Ambition: An annual reduction at minimum of 4.2% per year (aligning with the “1.5°C” decarbonization pathway)
  • Absolute reduction: The goal is stated as an absolute reduction target (if expressed as an intensity target, will need to follow an SBTi-approved sectoral decarbonization pathway)
  • Scope 3: Quantifying and including relevant scope 3 emissions categories in your SBT
    • The annual reduction of the scope 3 target is at minimum 2.5% per year (aligning with the “well-below-2°C” decarbonization pathway)
  • 3rd Party Validation: Working with a 3rd party to validate your annual GHG emissions and/or validating your SBT through the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

How To Meet Target’s Science-Based Target Requirements

To align with Target’s requirements, a company needs to undertake a structured process that includes several steps and disclosures related to Science-Based Targets (SBTs).

  • NOTICE: Vendors identified by Target to set SBTs will receive a notification to establish science-based reduction targets for scope 1 and 2 emissions.
  • RESEARCH: Companies should familiarize themselves with the GHG Protocol, which offers guidelines for creating a corporate-level GHG emissions inventory, as recommended by SBTi for emissions calculation.
  • SET A TARGET: Follow the initial stages of SBTi’s process to set SBTs
    • COMMIT: Register online and submit a letter to commit to setting a science-based target
    • DEVELOP A TARGET: Develop your target(s) in line with SBTi’s science-based criteria.
  • CALCULATE EMISSIONS: Quantify emissions from primary sources like energy usage in facilities and fuel for vehicles. Smaller sources should also be accounted for, using data from utility bills, fuel purchases, and mileage reports.
  • GHG INVENTORY: Create a greenhouse gas inventory to measure and track progress.
  • SET TARGETS: Set achievable climate goals tailored to your business based on calculated emissions.
  • SUBMIT: While validation with SBTi is encouraged, it’s not mandatory for Target partners. However, reporting through CDP is required for Target to review goals. A supplier must submit the Target Supplier SBT Intake Form as part of this process.
  • IMPLEMENT & REPEAT: Post-reporting, strategize and implement sustainability initiatives. Targets should be reviewed and, if needed, revalidated every five years starting in 2025 to align with the latest climate science. This will be a mandatory practice from 2025 onwards.


Target’s Partners Online Climate Policy & Training Page

SBTi Criteria and Recommendations for Near-Term Targets

How SustainaBase Helps Companies Meet Target’s Supplier Engagement Science-Based Targets

SustainaBase is a climate data management platform designed to help companies manage and act on their carbon footprints. Our role is particularly crucial in aiding Target suppliers to meet their SBTs and Target requirements by developing accurate, protocol-compliant scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions metrics, along with comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) management platform.

A robust and accurate GHGI management platform enables companies to:

  • Establish a baseline emission reporting year
  • Consistently track emissions
  • Document operational activities as emissions factors
  • Manage GHG risks and uncover reduction opportunities
  • Publicly report their progress in voluntary and mandatory GHG programs, including Target’s supplier requirements, CDP, SBTi, Net Zero, etc.
  • Gain recognition for their proactive measures in sustainability

Specifically, to meet Target’s supplier requirements, working with SustainaBase helps you:

  1. Measure and track scope 1 and 2 emissions (covering all supplier operations) – as well as scope 3 emissions- annually, 
  2. Set and report a company-wide scope 1 and 2 SBT by Target’s required deadline aligning to Target’s minimum criteria, and
  3. Report annual progress on emissions, reduction goals and initiatives through the CDP Supply Chain – Climate Survey

Embarking on a sustainability journey, especially one as demanding as meeting Target’s supplier requirements, can be daunting. The challenge often lies in the need for more expertise in understanding and quantifying GHG emissions. This is where SustainaBase steps in, serving as a company’s extended sustainability team. Our expertise in sustainability is backed by a proven track record, offering robust emissions data support to aid companies in their emission reduction endeavors.

We assist companies in calculating their carbon footprint across all scopes: scope 1 (direct emissions), scope 2 (indirect emissions from energy consumption), and scope 3 (indirect emissions from the company’s value chain). This support enables companies to precisely measure, monitor, and benchmark their emissions reduction progress annually, moving beyond estimations to accurate data-driven strategies.

Understanding one’s carbon footprint transcends mere compliance with numbers and targets. This data can be transformed into a compelling asset for a company, showcasing its commitment to sustainability, educating customers, and enhancing its brand image.

Designed to GHG Protocol and CDP Standards

All carbon accounting methodologies at SustainaBase adhere to the GHG Protocol standards and comply with CDP reporting. This multi-stakeholder partnership includes businesses, NGOs, governments, and more, with the mission to develop internationally accepted GHG accounting and reporting standards for business, mirroring the standards used by Target for supplier reporting.

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