The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a leading climate-certification organisation, is currently embroiled in a dispute with its own staff following the announcement of a new carbon-offsetting plan. The plan, which would allow companies to use environmental attribute certificates to offset emissions, particularly those from supply chains (Scope 3 emissions), has sparked significant dissent within the organisation.

Employees have demanded the withdrawal of the recent statement and are calling for the resignation of CEO Luiz Fernando do Amaral and board members who supported the plan. This internal turmoil was revealed in a letter circulated among various media outlets including the UK’s The Guardian and GreenBiz.

The controversy stems from SBTi’s statement issued last week, which marked a departure from its prior stance. The statement noted: “In January 2024, SBTi announced that work to revise its flagship corporate net-zero standard was a priority for 2024, and that this revision would include additional guidance on tackling Scope 3 emissions… SBTi recognises that, when properly supported by policies, standards and procedures based on scientific evidence, the use of environmental attribute certificates for abatement purposes on Scope 3 emissions could function as an additional tool to tackle climate change.”

However, SBTi staff have vehemently opposed this move, arguing it could facilitate ‘greenwashing’, where companies are perceived as addressing greenhouse gas emissions without making substantial reductions. The staff’s letter asserted: “SBTi staff are deeply concerned about the content of the statement and the process by which it was developed and released… The SBTi board of trustees [has] undermined our standard operating procedures and governance processes.”

Furthermore, the statement declared SBTi’s intention to consult and seek cooperation with other initiatives and a broad range of stakeholders to revise the Scope 3 framework. Despite this, employees criticised the lack of consultation and transparency, stating, “We regret that this statement has caused concern, confusion, and damaged the trust of critical stakeholders. We want to reassure our stakeholders and partners that SBTi staff remain committed to our work and upholding the initiative’s mission and governance processes.”

Responses to the SBTi’s proposed changes have been mixed across the environmental and corporate sectors. The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative welcomed the move, highlighting the slow pace at which companies are reducing emissions. On the other hand, consultants like Jurany Ramirez Gallego and organisations like Changing Markets Foundation have condemned the strategy, stressing that it undermines genuine efforts to combat climate change and could lead to corporate greenwashing.

SBTi plans to publish a discussion paper with a draft proposal regarding potential changes to Scope 3 in July, aiming to integrate carbon offsetting as a means to accelerate the decarbonisation of value chains.


Sam Allcock, a seasoned entrepreneur with over two decades of expertise in Food & Drink Editorial.

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