Understanding & Reporting FLAG Emissions

The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) offers a clear pathway for businesses to align with climate science.

Recently, the SBTi has extended its reach into the Forest, Land, and Agriculture (FLAG) sector, a significant but often overlooked area in terms of emissions – which makes up 22% of global emissions.

In this blog, we'll guide you through the newly developing world of FLAG emissions and point you in the right direction to get started.

Who Needs To Report FLAG Emissions?

As of January 2024, the SBTi requires the following companies to set a FLAG science-based target:

  • Companies with land intensive activities in their value chain from the following FLAG-designated sectors are required to set FLAG targets:
    • Forest and Paper Products – Forestry, Timber, Pulp and Paper
    • Food Production – Agricultural Production
    • Food Production – Animal Source
    • Food and Beverage Processing
    • Food and Staples Retailing
    • Tobacco
  • Or Companies in any other SBTi-designated sector that have FLAG-related emissions that total more than 20% of overall emissions across scopes 1, 2 and 3.

What Are FLAG Targets?

FLAG emissions refer to greenhouse gases released by forestry, land use, and agricultural practices. This includes carbon dioxide from deforestation, methane from livestock, and nitrous oxide from fertilisers.

Unlike emissions from industrial processes, FLAG emissions are complex because they involve natural processes, land management practices, and land-use change.

Therefore, the SBTi requires that companies with significant FLAG emissions commit to the following:

  • Set a near-term FLAG science-based target and align the company's emission reduction targets over the next 5-10 years with long term pathways to limiting warming to 1.5°C.
    • This target could be specific to FLAG a commodity e.g., Beef, Poultry, or Forestry products, or a more general ‘FLAG sector’ target.
  • Increase land removals in near-term FLAG science-based targets, including things like improving forest management practices and enhancing soil carbon sequestration on working lands.
  • Submit a no-deforestation commitment with a target date no later than 2025, with a recommended cutoff year of 2020. In line with the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi).
  • Set science-based targets for non-FLAG GHG emissions. Businesses with land-based emissions are required to set FLAG science-based targets in addition to standard science-based targets (for non-land based emissions).
  • Set a long-term net-zero science-based target. Food and agriculture companies setting long-term targets will reduce at least 72% of emissions by no later than 2050.

So, What Should You Do?

If you have significant FLAG emissions within your business, the transition to managing and reporting FLAG emissions is not just a regulatory necessity; it's a crucial step towards a net-zero future. Here's what you can do:

  • Assess Your Emissions: Start by evaluating your current  FLAG emissions (as well as your greenhouse gas emissions in general!).
  • Design a suitable net-zero strategy that identifies reduction opportunities and sets out pathways towards near- and long-term emissions reductions.
  • Set Clear Targets: Align your FLAG targets with the SBTi guidelines and set SBTs if you haven't already.
  • Implement Changes: Take active steps to meet these targets.
  • Monitor and Report: Regularly monitor your progress and report it. Transparency is key to accountability and will help you stay on track.
  • Engage Stakeholders: Communicate your efforts and progress with stakeholders, including investors, customers, and the community. This not only enhances your brand's reputation but also encourages others to follow suit.

If your internal sustainability team already has the skills ready to tackle this, then great! Otherwise, we're more than happy to help you navigate the complexities of FLAG emissions. Get in touch with us today via this link or the form below.

Together, we can make a significant impact in steering our planet towards a more sustainable future. Let's work towards making FLAG emissions management an integral part of your business strategy.

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