Does "science-based" always mean accurate?

What are the "science-based" requirements on carbon footprints reduction plans?

Does "science-based" always mean accurate?

Similarly to "CO2 neutrality" or "climate neutrality", another term made its way to CO2e reduction jargon: "science-based". But what does that actually mean, and how can we differentiate its meaning depending on the specific context?

In general and simply put, "science-based" (DE: "wissenschaftlich fundiert") means that the outcome (targets, data or calculation results) needs to be generated according to the rigorous principles and methods of scientific research.

There is a broad range of criteria that need to be respected in order to follow a science-based approach. In the context of CO2data, three different creation contexts follow a science-based approach, the generation of:

1️⃣ Science-based targets

2️⃣ Corporate Carbon Footprints ("CCFs")/ Product Carbon Footprints ("PCFs")

3️⃣ CO2e reference data

Science-based targets

The Science Based Targets initiative has shaped the wording around companies' clearly-defined path to reduce emissions. According to the initiative, "Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 °C."

Science-based PCFs or CCFs

Normally, the "science-based" terminology is used when talking about specific LCA studies, which can be verified by DEKRA or TÜV. However, CCFs and PCFs can also get verified if they follow a calculation methodology based on recognized standards such as the ISO 14067 and the GHG Protocol frameworks.

Science-based CO2e reference database

Companies require CO2e data when calculating CCFs and PCFs. Ideally, all suppliers should provide their partners and customers with primary data and perform their own LCA studies. In reality, however, suppliers often do not provide this data. Therefore, many companies rely on CO2e reference data to calculate their carbon footprints. Hence, the best source of data stems from LCA studies calculated on the basis of primary data. But what happens, when the material a business wants to purchase does not have a published LCA study? This gap can be efficiently filled with extensive CO2e reference data, which is not only based on LCA studies but enhanced with further related studies (on components of that material for example).

sustamize's Product Footprint Engine ("PFE") is a science- and industry- based CO2e reference database as it is founded on published LCA studies completed by further extensive industry know-how. We additionally enhance the data with a perfected bottom-up process modelling aligned with the GHG Protocoll Product Standard and ISO 14067. Finally, we ensure that our database in- and output is compliant with standards which awarded us an ISO 14048 certificate from DEKRA's validation.