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A competitive climate transition – the SBTI companies' perspective

The scope and timetable of climate change require that many social actors act independently but also cooperate. In this study, we have explored why companies set climate goals beyond legal requirements. We have investigated how they can push and pull together with policy for a forceful and competitive transformation of climate change.

Summary

The study is part of a framework project where we previously published two reports (PM 2023:03, WP 2023:03). The study is limited to companies that have joined the international initiative Science based targets, SBTI. Companies that join SBTi commit to reduce their emissions in line with what is required to achieve the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. The companies assume responsibility for their entire value chain. The purpose of this sub-study is to gain knowledge about the Swedish companies’ perspectives on why they joined.

Through a survey and round table discussion, we have asked the companies what strategic benefits they expect, their challenges in the short- and long-term perspective, implementation strategies and to what extent they are dependent on politics to achieve their goals.

The results indicate that the companies' motives, strategies and challenges are relatively uniform. The companies see their SBTI participation as a seal of quality that helps to communicate to investors and customers that they take their sustainability work seriously. They see climate and sustainability work as a way to future-proof their business. They do this because they expect tougher sustainability requirements from regulators, investors and customers in the future. The SBTI involvement means that they are acting now, rather than later They conclude that there are strategic advantages to be early instead of waiting for more formalized requirements. The SBTI commitment motivates employees, contributes to attracting talent and competence, provides access to leading and sustainability-conscious customers. As the ambitious climate goals require new solutions, they also contribute to driving innovation.

The companies perceive that the advantages are many and the respondents express that they are convinced that their choice of path is the right one. At the same time, they acknowledge that there are many challenges and bottlenecks.

The companies state that they are highly dependent on policy creating pressure for climate transition through long-term policy with stable and predictable rules of the game. They inquire for an incentive structure in line with the climate goals such as influencing relative prices through regulations, taxes and subsidies. This would help steer towards the goals, and affect demand from final consumers, business customers and requirements in public procurement. They want investments in green infrastructure in the form of competitive green energy, sustainable transport and access to climate data at company and product level. They would like to see investment in increased competence on climate change, both excellence in higher university education and broader general education. For their own part, they work both internally and externally towards their customers to build and develop continued competence. Finally, they also want Swedish politicians to work internationally for a green transition as many of the companies operate on a global market and are dependent on regulations being harmonized.

An advantage of SBTI, from the companies' perspective, is the regulatory requirement that the climate goals cover the company's entire value chain. These include emissions that occur during the production of input goods but also emissions linked to the use of products. This means that the company's responsibility extends far beyond the country's borders and constitutes a built-in requirement for cooperation between companies.

As this is a qualitative study that focuses on a group of companies that have joined a voluntary initiative, SBTi, and the data collection covers a subgroup within the SBTI population, the results should be interpreted with caution.

A competitive climate transition – the SBTI companies' perspective

Serial number: Rapport 2023:20

Reference number: 2023/32

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