SBTi releases new guide on emission-reduction targets for seafood sector

Published on
April 4, 2022
The Science Based Targets Initiative Logo

The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) has released a new guide for companies in the seafood sector that are interested in setting emissions reductions targets.

SBTi is an initiative designed to encourage companies to meet specific targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and one of the We Mean Business Coalitions commitments.

Several seafood companies and retailers have already committed to the SBTi, including the Lerøy Seafood, Grieg Seafood, and Nomad as concerns on climate change grow.

The new guide from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the UN Global Compact aims to support seafood companies in taking the emissions reduction step by consolidating lessons learned by companies that have committed to the SBTi. The guide presents the best practices, common challenges, and solutions for both fishing and aquaculture companies if they choose to join SBTi. Additionally, it details the business case for setting these targets, which includes financial incentives and risk-mitigation.

While seafood may already offer a lower carbon footprint than many land-based protein sources, the industry still must do more to limit global warming, according to SBTi. Global temperature increases are impacting the biological side of the seafood industry by changing aquatic chemistry, ocean circulation, sea level and ice distribution, and increasing sea temperatures – which impact fish biology such as digestion, immune reaction to disease, and reproduction.

Sea temperature changes are also leading to more frequent extreme weather events, putting capture fisheries and coastal infrastructure related to the seafood value chain at major risk. The authors of the guide estimate that in the absence of fishing, marine animal biomass will be reduced by 17 percent by 2100 due to these changes.

“Companies should set goals going forward at the board level and target setting should be approved by top management so that it does not stay at the bottom of the corporation,” Lerøy Seafood Group said. “Many companies’ boards need to be educated on why and how they should achieve sustainability in the seafood industry. From a business perspective, sustainability is not just for looking good and reducing emissions, but it also means competitive advantage for the firm.”

Businesses setting SBTi targets help mitigate the risk of incoming emission regulations, target a consumer shift toward food with a lower carbon footprint, and embraces an investor shift away from companies lacking clear emissions targets and energy-use transition plans.

Additionally, more-efficient production methods save seafood businesses money and creates supply-chain mapping for streamlined systems and opportunities for ESG improvements to be identified, SBTi said. SBTi said it provides an opportunity for pre-competitive collaboration of participating seafood companies to learn from one another about mitigation strategies and make progress at a greater pace.

“Make the commitment at the top of your company and do it soon. The solutions to achieve SBTs ... are clear and will be a prerequisite for trade in years to come,” Hilton Food Group said. “There is a need to take a leap of faith and commit to the collaborative efforts that will help drive the innovation, which will in turn achieve huge carbon reductions across the value chain. Companies can address their own footprints, but it is not sufficient to act alone and they also need to collaborate to get ahead on the journey to shared SBTs.”  

Contributing editor/Reporting from Hawaii, U.S.A.

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