Funding Governance for Systemic Transformation — r3.0 Blueprint #8–Funding Governance Dysfunctions: Idiosyncratic or Inherent? Case Study 1

This is part 4 of a series of Medium articles on r3.0’s newest Blueprint, released on September 6, 2022, at the 9th r3.0 International Conference in Amsterdam and online. This fourth part covers the first of two case studies regarding the Blueprint’s generic critique of current funding governance. The full version of the Blueprint can be found here.

Scrutinizing the Relationship Between Bezos Earth Fund & IKEA Foundation Funding and Science Based Targets initiative’s Self-Biased Conflicts of Interest

By Bill Baue [1]

What is the relationship between the governance of funding organizations, namely philanthropic foundations, and the governance of the organizations they support, namely not-for-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? In particular, in the context of this Blueprint’s critique of the existing economic system and funding governance [2] infrastructure, the further question arises: to what degree might governance dysfunctions at funding organizations and funded organizations be intertwined and mutually reinforcing? And notching up to the systemic level: to what degree do these funding governance dysfunctions reflect broader patterns of dysfunction in the overarching economic system — namely the extraction, exploitation, and colonization inherent in capitalist economies?

The case of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) provides an ideal example for exploring these questions. SBTi was established in 2015 through a partnership between four BINGOs (Big International Non-Governmental Organizations) — CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — to provide guidance to companies for setting decarbonization trajectory targets in line with the climate science, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement. [3]

Fast forward six years, to November 2021: SBTi received $37 million in grants, with $18 million each from the Bezos Earth Fund and the IKEA Foundation, to scale up “exponential growth.” [4] In the intervening years, SBTi swiftly emerged as a self-proclaimed de facto standard, [5] but at what cost? The evidence demonstrates a replication by SBTi of the capitalist system’s pattern of extraction, exploitation, and colonization, which the funders turned a blind eye to, at the very least, if not actively enabling and supporting these dynamics. Indeed, given that both foundations are capitalized with assets generated through the capitalist system, and associated with companies (IKEA and Amazon) and an individual (Jeff Bezos) who champion and benefit from the capitalist economic system, it stands to reason that the associated foundations would have deeply embedded bias for the capitalist economic system, and thus would (consciously or unconsciously) operate in ways that uphold and entrench the existing capitalist economic system.

This case study provides the documentation necessary to understand SBTi’s governance dysfunctions, and assess potential tie-ins with its funders.

Background: From Unbiased Guidance to Self-Biased Recommendations

For its first three years, SBTi took an unbiased approach to providing guidance on a handful of decarbonization methods that align with climate science. These methods comprised the first generation (2006–2009) of approaches, including:

  • The Center for Sustainable Organization (CSO) Context-Based Carbon Metric, the first-ever such method created by Mark McElroy in 2006 in collaboration with Unilever subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s; [6]
  • The Climate Stabilization Intensity (CSI) approach developed by British Telecom (BT) Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Tuppen and Limits to Growth Co-Author Jørgen Randers in 2008; [7] and
  • The Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-stabilizing Targets (C-FACT) developed by Emma Stewart and Aniruddha Deodhar of Autodesk in 2009. [8]

Subsequently (2015–2016), SBTi Partnership Organizations (CDP, UNGC, WRI, WWF) developed two methods that took distinctly different approaches:

  • The Sectoral Decarbonization Approach (SDA), created by Ecofys in collaboration with the SBTi Partners in 2015, which divvies up the carbon budget on a sectoral basis; [9] and
  • The Absolute Contraction Approach (ACA), created by WRI and Mars in 2016, which takes a straight-line approach between present emissions and future net zero, without regard to the sigmoidal curve nature of scenarios from the climate science nor changes to companies over time. [10]

Specifically, SBTi retained a statement on its Methods landing page affirming this unbiased stance in the first three years of its existence (2015–2018):

There is not one ‘best’ method but there will be one that will work best for your company. [11] (Emphasis added)

In early 2018, however, SBTi did an abrupt about-face, instituting a new regime recommending for two methods (that happened to be those created by SBTi partners — SDA and ACA), and recommending against all other methods (that happen to have been created independent of SBTi — CSO, CSI, and C-FACT). Here’s how SBTi explained it at the time:

The Science Based Targets initiative recommends companies use either the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach or the Absolute Emissions Contraction Method to set their Scope 1 and 2 targets as these methods ensure that global emissions are reduced in absolute terms in the long term. They are the most robust methods to ensure the 2°C carbon budget is conserved. In addition, the other methods (C-FACT, GEVA, CSI and CSO) might not be updated with recent data. [12] (Emphasis added)

Importantly, SBTi did not consult the creators of the independent methods to cross-check its assumptions about potential weaknesses of the methods (or seek solutions if the weaknesses did indeed exist), nor did it consult its own Technical Advisory Group (TAG), upon which three of the independent method creators served.

So, in other words, the only parties that made the decision to recommend certain methods were representatives of the very organizations that created those recommended methods. SBTi’s TAG (which it chose not to consult) exists precisely to provide just this kind of “technical advisory” input, yet SBTi curiously (and insidiously) opted against even informing the TAG (until after the fact) of what could be considered SBTi’s most consequential technical decision to date. [13] In common parlance, SBTi served as “the judge and the jury,” which represents a clear self-biased conflict of interest.

Furthermore, the above indented quote suggests that SDA and ACA are the only methods that comply with the three criteria that are bolded in the quote (summarized here):

  • “ensure that global emissions are reduced in absolute terms in the long term”;
  • “ensure the 2°C carbon budget is conserved”;
  • “be updated with recent data.”

However, evidence on SBTi’s own website at the time clearly demonstrated that one of the methods SBTi recommended against — CSO — complied with all three criteria, before, during, and after the disqualification decision. [14] So, SBTi’s asymmetric application of these criteria, unfairly qualifying only its own methods and disqualifying a method that clearly complied with the criteria, was illegitimate right out of the gate.

Members of the SBTi TAG (including myself and others) challenged this decision from the get-go, on both these substantive (criteria compliance) grounds, and also on procedural (self-biased conflict of interest) grounds. On the substantive grounds, TAG members requested access to the evidence that SBTi based its decision upon — the analysis and underlying data — in order to conduct the scientific method of replicating results to verify the validity of the findings. SBTi has refused to disclose this evidence to this day — while claiming to champion transparency and replicability. [15] SBTi leadership continually refused to address and resolve the concerns of its TAG members.

In February 2021, a peer-reviewed study of science based target setting methods by Concordia University researcher Anders Bjørn and colleagues that validated the substantive concerns raised by TAG members was published. [16] Specifically, the study examined how the various methods balanced with the carbon budget (i.e. produced the smallest “emissions imbalance,” in the study’s terminology). The study focused on this aspect specifically because this was the driving concern behind SBTi’s recommendation regime, as far as the researchers could conclude based on existing evidence (the researchers noted the significance of SBTi’s lack of clarity over the specific reasons for method disqualification.) [17]

The study found that the “CSO method, followed by the SDA method, has the overall lowest emission imbalance across all scenarios.” In its recommendations section, it stated “our results indicate that concerns over emission imbalance should favour the CSO and SDA methods, rather than ACA and SDA.”

In other words, the study found that the CSO method, which SBTi barred, performs stronger on balancing the carbon budget than the ACA and SDA methods, which SBTi recommends. Stated more plainly, SBTi disqualifies the strongest method, which was created independent of SBTi, and exclusively recommends weaker methods, which were created by SBTi, raising concerns over self bias and conflicts of interest.

Immediately after this publication, I submitted a Formal Complaint to the SBTi Executive Board expressing concerns over “self-dealing and conflicts of interest,” asking the Board to “investigate … adjudicate, and resolve” these concerns. [18] The SBTi Executive Board delegated the issue to its Steering Committee who — unsurprisingly (seeing as they were the very players who enacted the conflicted decisions) — pronounced themselves “innocent.”

In other words, SBTi enacted a conflict of interests (the accused parties investigating themselves) to address a complaint over SBTi conflicts of interest. The irony was apparently lost on SBTi, suggesting that conflicts of interest are so baked into its DNA as to be a default mode of behavior that remains invisible to its own eyes.

In the face of what I characterized as a “grossly insufficient” response, I proceeded to submit a lengthy Memorandum [19] to the SBTi Executive Board documenting the technical and procedural problems in “excruciating detail.” [20] After significant delay, the SBTi Executive Board finally hosted a Zoom meeting with me on 19 August 2021 that failed to resolve any of the issues, with no pathway to resolution identified.

February 2022 saw a flurry of activity:

  • On 2 February 2022, the Financial Times published an article on SBTi’s conflicts of interest problems, related not only to its self-biased method recommendations but also its role as both standard-setter and target validator. [21]
  • On 6 February 2022, the New Climate Institute and Carbon Market Watch released the Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor (CCRM), which independently validated this latter conflict of interests concern, stating that SBTi faces a “potential conflict of interest, if performing the role of both defining the standard as well as assessing companies against their own criteria and guidelines.” [22]
  • On 23 February 2022, SBTi announced the appointment of Luiz Amaral of World Resources Institute as its firstever CEO, which the Wall Street Journal covered, noting that SBTi concurrently “faces accusations of a conflict of interest.” [23]

In mid-March, in a brief call with me, the new SBTi CEO asserted his commitment to create the mechanisms necessaryto resolve the Complaint. In early May, Reuters reported on SBTi’s announcement that it was creating a Complaints Director position that it was seeking to fill. [24]

“The question will be, to what degree will they have independence and follow the best practices of a corporate ombudsman-type position,“ I said, as quoted by Reuters. [25]

Since the period Bjørn et al conducted their study, the CSO method aligned with a new climate science scenario, [26] the Climate Equity Reference Calculator (CERC) created by the Stockholm Environment Institute and other partners, which adds three significant improvements over the most robust scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), namely SSP1–1.9 (which the CSO method retained to give users choice):

  • CERC adds a further “equity tilt” — while SSP1–1.9 (and most IPCC scenarios) account for differentiated emissions mitigation capacity between the Global North and Global South, CERC also accounts for differentiated historical responsibility, arguably a more significant equity dimension;
  • CERC calls for the achievement of net zero emissions in OECD regions by 2027, while allowing a longer runway to non-OECD regions, precisely because of historic responsibility and capacity inequities; and
  • While IPCC scenarios (including SSP1–1.9) typically rely heavily on future development and scaling of currently unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, CERC enables a precautionary approach that excludes assumptions that such technologies will save the day.

None of the SBTi methods (ACA and SDA) feature these global equity and precautionary considerations, further distinguishing CSO as a superior method — and further amplifying the imperative of SBTi lifting its ban on such a powerful tool for addressing the climate emergency in ways that take global equity into account. Indeed, the high profile 2021 Dutch court case against Shell noted the lack of equity considerations in existing methods (specifically naming SBTi and others), [27] and recent scientific scholarship has demonstrated how even IPCC scenarios “perpetuate colonial inequalities.” [28]

Analysis: BINGO colonization

As the other case study in the critique section of this Blueprint established, the not-for-profit model has become corporatized in the past several decades, such that many NGOs — particularly BINGOs (Big International Non- Governmental Organizations) — have effectively transformed from repairers of the harms of the capitalist economic system into purveyors of the capitalist economic system. As asserted in the Critique Chapter, three prominent attributes of the capitalist economic system are: extraction, exploitation, and colonization. This analysis will demonstrate, based on the above documentation, how SBTi has enacted such capitalist dynamics, in particular colonization (which involves extraction and exploitation).

The Oxford English Dictionary defines colonization as the “action of appropriating a place or domain for one‘s own use.” [29] Wikipedia, focusing on the human settlement connotation of colonization, also notes that colonization features “settlers dispossessing indigenous inhabitants, or instituting legal and other structures which systematically disadvantage them.” [30]

It is uncontroversial to claim that colonization is a feature, not a bug, of capitalism. Indeed, scientific study cited in the Critique Chapter has established that mercantile capitalism in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries enacted genocidal colonization of the Americas so profound that it left a mark on the geological record denoting the beginning of a new geological epoch (the Anthropocene, in 1610), and that industrial and consumer capitalism has continued increasingly abstracted (but no less violent) colonization dynamics since then. [31]

The short history of SBTi demonstrates clear colonization dynamics, where the four BINGOs

  • Entered a pre-existing “domain” that had already been established independently (by the first generation of methods for setting corporate greenhouse gas emissions targets aligned with climate science scenarios — CSO, CSI, and C-FACT);
  • Exploited those who established the domain (CSO, CSI, and C-FACT, and other actors) by inviting them to serve as representatives of the domain (appointing those established the domain of science based target setting to serve on the SBTi Technical Advisory Group);
  • Extracted reputational legitimacy from these representatives as figureheads, while denying them appropriate voice and power (by structuring the TAG such that SBTi set the agenda to serve its own purposes, while actively, assertively, and arbitrarily ignoring the technical advice of its members when it ran counter to SBTi’s wishes.)
  • Colonized the domain by instituting an arbitrary recommendation regime that “dispossessed” and “systematically disadvantaged” those who had established the domain (by illegitimately disqualifying the prior, independent methods) and positioned SBTi’s own methods as the only “valid” methods that can qualify for SBTi validation.

To be clear, militarized colonization (including when the weaponization is capitalism, which deploys tools other than direct physical attack) resulting in genocide, enslavement, and geographic and political displacement is obviously more significant than SBTi’s colonization, by orders of magnitude. The point here is that SBTi’s actions demonstrate a colonizing mindset and toolkit, without suggesting equivalence of severity with other forms of colonization: the point is that all forms of colonization involve harmful power-over dynamics.

Viewed from historical distance, the utter disrespect SBTi demonstrated to the first generation method creators is startling — but altogether consistent with colonizer behavior, which typically exploits the good will of those it seeksto colonize. SBTi relied heavily on the use of these first generation methods in the launch phase to legitimize itself, but once it had established sufficient traction, SBTi “threw them under the bus”: SBTi publicly invalidated the first generation methods in a starkly illegitimate way — without providing a shred of evidence and without giving the method creators the opportunity to defend their methods against inaccurate and obfuscated claims (as Bjørn et al clearly demonstrated).

SBTi CEO Luiz Amaral has claimed that the “decision on which methods are eligible for SBTi validation was aligned with the rightful governance and due process at that time” [32] — which means that SBTi justifies its self-empowerment to arbitrarily evict the first generation method creators based on intransparent (and possibly non-existent) research.

This unfolding of events demonstrates a standard colonization abuse of power: the weaponization of rule-setting authority to exert supremacy over the displaced and dispossessed population. Colonization by definition leverages power illegitimately as its only means of achieving competitive advantage. Egalitarian governance, by contrast, allocates power fairly, commensurate with merit — an approach that would have prevented SBTi from concentrating methodology-setting and validation powers exclusively in its own hands.

Underscoring the transparent illegitimacy of the decision (despite SBTi CEO claims otherwise) is SBTi’s insistence on concealing the data and analysis upon which the decision was made, directly contravening the scientific method of making data freely available to replicate and verify results. I have been asking SBTi to share this data and analysis ever since the decision was made; SBTi has steadfastly refused to share the data and analysis. If the data and analysis demonstrated impartial, objective findings supporting SBTi’s decision, wouldn’t it be in the best interests of all for SBTi to share the data and analysis? SBTi’s intransigent intransparency makes it clear that the data and analysis, far from justifying the decision, would undermine it if exposed to the light of public scrutiny. Why else would SBTi, which purportedly operates to serve the public interest, withhold vital information from the public it serves?

Funders as Enablers of Colonization

What roles do SBTi’s biggest funders — Bezos Earth Fund and IKEA Foundation — play in its governance dysfunctions? At the very least, these funders play an enabling role, though a deeper analysis suggests that they play an activating role, as the perpetuation of capitalism and its colonization is the modus operandi of the philanthropic field, as the Critique Chapter establishes.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, the second richest man in the world (with a net worth of $142 billion), first announced the Bezos Earth Fund as a $10 billion, decade-long commitment to fight climate change and protect nature in a November 2020 Instagram post. [33] On 9 March 2021, the World Resources Institute announced that its President and CEO Andrew Steer had been hired as President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund.

At the time, Dr. Steer was serving as the WRI representative on the SBTi Executive Board, in which capacity he directly received the Formal Complaint about SBTi conflicts of interest. Dr. Steer also directly received the more detailed Memorandum in late March 2021, before he was replaced on the SBTi Executive Board.

Dr. Steer therefore had knowledge of the complaints of significant governance dysfunctions at SBTi when the Bezos Earth Fund granted SBTi $18 million, in November 2021. This raises the question: in what ways did the Bezos Earth Fund engage with SBTi to address governance weaknesses as part of its grant-making, if at all?

The IKEA Foundation had supported SBTi financially in advance of its November 2021 $18 million grant. In fact, the IKEA Foundation commissioned Deloitte to conduct a “comprehensive review” of SBTi that provided “a holistic view of SBTi’s current situation and analyze[d] the opportunities and gaps that can help further drive its impact.” [34] The IKEA Foundation published this July 2020 Review on the Learnings landing page of its Website in at least May 2021, according to the Wayback Machine on Archive.org. [35]

The Review, which reviewed internal documents and public literature, interviewed internal and external stakeholders, conducted a benchmarking against similar organization’s structures, and implemented a web survey, devoted an 11-page chapter (of its 82 pages overall) to the Governance Model. [36]

Of the 15 quotations in the Governance Model chapter, exactly zero come from external stakeholders; Deloitte chose to exclusively quote internal SBTi stakeholders. [37] In other words, Deloitte (acting on behalf of the IKEA Foundation) interviewed 29 external stakeholders [38] and implemented a web survey with 400 responses, [39] and chose to include quotes from none of these stakeholders in its review of the SBTi governance model. The silence is deafening.

This dynamic of collusion between Deloitte, IKEA Foundation, and SBTi to utterly ignore external stakeholder input on the SBTi governance model clearly demonstrates the assertion in the Critique Chapter that the “Loop 4” consultancy layer of the existing economic system functions primarily to reinforce and entrench the power structures of the status quo.

Unsurprisingly, SBTi took the opportunity to rubber stamp its own governance model, giving itself high marks, further reinforcing the self bias dynamic, as the quotes clearly demonstrate:

“The governance structure of SBTi is very unique; it‘s actually the strength of the initiative” (SBTi Steering Committee)

“The collaborative model has built unprecedented legitimacy since the organisations challenge and complete with each other.” (SBTi Steering Committee)

SBTi’s self-biased conflicts of interest are so ingrained that the SBTi Steering Committee brags about its improved service after implementing the conflicted validation process:

“A lot of the criticisms have come from before we had the target validation service. We provide a much better service now, given that we can charge a fee. We still have a bad reputation due to company experiences from before the change to a for-fee service…” (SBTi Steering Committee)

This quote elides the fact that SBTi clearly understood its status as standard-setter and validator to be a conflict of interests. In the 2 April 2019 Technical Advisory Group meeting, when I reiterated previously voiced concerns that “the fee and validation by the standards setter does step into tricky territory, when you’re setting the standard and assuring it, that that can be perceived as a red flag,” one of SBTi’s Co-Founders stated “I understand,” and another SBTi executive acknowledged that it “isn’t best practice to have these functions sitting so closely together” and added that SBTi intended to start “outsourcing” to third party validators “later this fall” (ie three years ago) — yet SBTi has since doubled down on its commitment to serving as standard setter and validator (and doubled its validation fees).

So, the evidence demonstrates clearly that SBTi was quite literally lying in its self-assessment of strong governance — but Deloitte gladly played along by neglecting to include critical input on SBTi governance from external stakeholders, and the IKEA Foundation went along for the ride.

To assess the funders’ awareness of SBTi’s governance dysfunctions — and ethical engagement to curtail such dysfunctions — this case study includes a series of questions posed to IKEA Foundation and Bezos Earth Fund. The questions are structured to address three levels, from general to operational to SBTi-specific, enabling these funders to answer from 1) a broad perspective addressing conceptual implications in their work overarchingly, to 2) how theyoperationalize their conceptual stance practically, to 3) the specific instance of SBTi, and how they are responding.

The questions follow in Box below.

Neither IKEA Foundation nor Bezos Earth Fund answered the questions — which tells a story in and of itself. IKEA Foundation Climate Action Programme Manager Edgar van de Brug, who previously worked with Ecofys (the consultancy that created the SDA methodology with the SBTi Partnership Organizations), provided a generic, templated response, but explicitly refused to answer the specific questions. (See Box below for his responses.) Bezos Earth Fund Fellow Kelley Kizier engaged in a Zoom meeting to better understand the context of the questions, but she neglected to provide answers, even after 2 reminders.

While Mr. van de Brug asserted the need to “focus our efforts on making progress with our partners on climate action in a way that is inclusive, just and equitable for all,” it is unclear how the refusal to respond to legitimate questions, that bear in on these very issues, advances action that is “inclusive, just, and equitable.”

What if the action IKEA Foundation is taking in its funding of SBTi is not, in fact, “inclusive, just, and equitable for all”? Indeed, Mr. van de Brug’s refusal to answer legitimate questions is, by definition, exclusive. And answers to these questions would help to independently assess if IKEA Foundations actions are, indeed, “inclusive, just, and equitable for all.”

The concern arises that IKEA Foundation is demonstrating a similar pattern as SBTi enacts, on at least two fronts:

  • lack of transparency and good faith engagement around activity that is devoted to “the public good“; and
  • an assumption that making pronouncements that it is taking action that is “inclusive, just, and equitable for all”) is the same as actually enacting action that is “inclusive, just, and equitable for all.”

As for the Bezos Earth Fund, Ms. Kizzier did engage in a good-faith conversation about the questions, and acknowledged the relevance and significance of them. She did express difficulty understanding the connection between fundee governance dysfunctions and funder governance dysfunctions, as she would see fundee governance issues to fall more under the funder’s operational purview. Unfortunately, she neglected to respond to the questions, so we have no way of seeing if she came to an understanding of this relationship between fundee and funder governance dysfunction.

But, this case study fills in the blank: if funders governed themselves in ways where they held themselves accountable to the public interest they are duty-bound to serve, then they would enact the governance imperative of ensuring that the organizations they fund likewise hold themselves accountable to the public interest they are duty-bound to serve. If neither funder nor fundee govern themselves in ways that prioritize serving the public interest, instead of serving their own interests, then their governance systems are broken, in ways that are intimately intertwined.

Indeed, in the case of SBTi and its funders, the conflicts of interest and governance dysfunctions are clearly intertwined. Bezos Earth Fund President and CEO Andrew Steer sat on the SBTi Executive Board during the period that SBTi enacted its governance dysfunctions, and when those dysfunctions were explicitly called out, so he was perfectly positioned to address these dysfunctions as part and parcel of the $18 million grant. Unfortunately, Bezos Earth Fund neglected to provide evidence that addressing SBTi’s governance dysfunctions played any role in its generous funding. Dr. Steer’s funding of an initiative on whose Executive Board he formerly served, while actively choosing not to address publicly identified governance shortcomings, smacks of further conflict of interests.

IKEA Foundation’s “kid-glove” handling of governance issues at SBTi also smacks of a conflict of interests, as the foundation is prioritizing its own interests by perpetuating the perception that it is funding a strong, well-governed organization, instead of prioritizing the public interest of discerning if, in fact, SBTi is a strong, well-governed organization that it “fit-to-task” to address the “severity of the climate crisis.”

The patterns documented in this case study suggest an answer to the titular question: that funding governance dysfunctions in the current philanthropic and economic systems are not idiosyncratic, but rather inherent. Indeed, the pursuit of self-interest on all fronts makes regenerative thinking impossible, so both funders and fundees will need to embrace collective interest as a foundational precept of regenerative funding governance.

Notes:

[1] Bill Baue was an original instigator of what became the Science Based Targets initiative, and served on its Technical Advisory Board from its inception through late 2020, as explained in the Formal Complaint he submitted to SBTi in February 2021 and the subsequent Memorandum he submitted a month later. Bill Baue. 2021. Formal Complaint: Science Based Targets Conflicts of Interest. Medium. 15 February 2021. https://bbaue.medium.com/formal-complaint-science-based-targets-conflicts-of-interest-f8199407ac10

Bill Baue. 2021. Memorandum on Science Based Targets Initiative Steering Committee Response Letter to the Formal Complaint. Medium. 24 March 2021. https://bbaue.medium.com/memorandum-on-science-based-targets- initiative-steering-committee-response-letter-to-the-formal-7dc9971f4460

[2] As a reminder of this Blueprint’s definition of “funding governance,” here is how we frame it in the Introduction: “Funding governance,” as we are using it here, refers to the set of practices and principles that we are exploring. Proxies include “the governance of funding” and “funding allocation decision-making.” This is distinct from “the funding of governance,” i.e. providing financial resources for the people and processes involved in decision-making generally. There is overlap in the case of governance that is specifically about where money should go, which we highlight as requiring adequate resourcing for the process to be regenerative. But our domain does not include governance that is not primarily related to funding allocation.”

[3] Science Based Targets initiative. n.d. About Us. https://sciencebasedtargets.org/about-us; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 2015. The Paris Agreement. https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

[4] Science Based Targets initiative. 2021. “SBTi secures $37M USD to scale-up exponential growth,“ 3 November 2021.

[5] Alberto Carrillo Pineda. 2021. Let’s limit warming to 1.5°C: Our new 2021–2025 strategy. Science Based Targets initiative. 15 July 2021. https://sciencebasedtargets.org/blog/our-ambitious-new-strategy

[6] Center for Sustainable Organizaitons. n.d. Context-Based Carbon Metric. https://www.sustainableorganizations.org/context-based-metrics-public-domain/; Ben & Jerry‘s. 2006. Global Warming Social Footprint. 2006 Social & Environmental Assessment Report. https://www.benjerry.com/about-us/sear-reports/2006-sear-report#globwarmsocfootprint

[7] Chris Tuppen. 2008. Climate Stabilisation Intensity Targets: A new approach to setting corporate climate change targets. British Telecom. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/565ebf94e4b0f2a77109071e/t/5a01b78471c10b9d51d476ec/1510061996036/CSI+Methodology+Notes+Aug17.pdf

[8] Emma Stewart & Aniruddha Deodhar. 2009. A Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-stabilizing Targets (“C-FACT”). Autodesk. White Paper. November 2009. https://sciencebasedtargets.org/resources/legacy/2014/09/greenhouse_gas_white_paper000.pdf

[9] Science Based Targets initiative. 2015. Sectoral Decarbonization Approach (SDA): A method for setting corporate emission reduction targets in line with climate science. A product of the Science Based Targets Initiative. Version 1. May 2015.

[10] Putt del Pino, S., C. Cummis, S. Lake, K. Rabinovitch, P. Reig. 2016. From Doing Better to Doing Enough: Anchoring Corporate SustainabilityTargets in Science. Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute and Mars Incorporated. https://files.wri.org/d8/s3fs-public/From_Doing_Better_to_Doing_Enough_Anchoring_Corporate_Sustainability_Targets_in_Science.pdf. This “straight line” approach was also applied by a method created by SBTi Partnership Organizations in 2013: the 3% Solution. This method is no longer recommended by SBTi, due to its limited applicability in the US (among other things). CDP & WWF. 2013. The 3% Solution: Driving Profits Through Carbon Reduction. June 2013. https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/575/files/original/The_3_Percent_Solution_-_June_10.pdf?1371151781

[11] SBTi. 2016. Methods. Website Landing Page. 19 May 2016. https://web.archive.org/web/20160519044414/https://sciencebasedtargets.org/methods/; SBTi. 2018. Methods. Website Landing Page. 24 January 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20180124064537/https://sciencebasedtargets.org/methods/

[12] SBTi. 2018. Methods. Website Landing Page. 6 April 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20180406180800/https://sciencebasedtargets.org/methods/

[13] The Technical Advisory Group met on an irregular basis, and SBTi set the agenda for meetings, explicitly refusing to include agenda items proposed by TAG members in its meetings, resulting in the TAG essentially serving as a “fig leaf,” as one TAG member privately commented.

[14] For in-depth documentation, see: Bill Baue. 2021. Memorandum on Science Based Targets Initiative Steering Committee Response Letter to the Formal Complaint. Medium. 24 March 2021. https://bbaue.medium.com/memorandum-on-science-based-targets-initiative-steering-committee-response-letter-to-the-formal-7dc9971f4460

[15] Bill Baue. 2022a. SBTi CEO Response Asserting Commitment to Transparency is Bullshit. 25 May 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sbti-ceo-response-asserting-commitment-transparency-bullshit-baue/

[16] Anders Bjørn, Shannon Lloyd & Damon Matthews. 2021. From the Paris Agreement to corporate climate commitments: evaluation of seven methods for setting ‚science-based‘ emission targets. Environmental Research Letters. Volume 16, Number 5. 22 April 2021. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abe57b

[17] “It is also not entirely clear why the SBTi generally recommends ACA and SDA over the other five SBT methods (SBTi 2020c), but suspected emission imbalances appear to play a role.” Ibid.

[18] Bill Baue. 2021a. Formal Complaint: Science Based Targets Conflicts of Interest. Medium. 15 February 2021. https://bbaue.medium.com/formal-complaint-science-based-targets-conflicts-of-interest-f8199407ac10

[19] Bill Baue. 2021b. Memorandum on Science Based Targets Initiative Steering Committee Response Letter to the Formal Complaint.Medium. 24 March 2021. https://bbaue.medium.com/memorandum-on-science-based-targets-initiative-steering-committee-response-letter-to-the-formal-7dc9971f4460

[20] Bill Baue. 2022b. Necessary Remedies to SBTi’s Betrayal of the Public Trust An Open Letter to Science Based Targets Initiative Rightsholders. Medium. 16 February 2022. https://bbaue.medium.com/necessary-remedies-to-sbtis-betrayal-of-the-public-trust-937a00f16cc7

[21] Camilla Hodgson. Climate targets oversight group under scrutiny over its own governance. Financial Times. 2 February 2022. https://www.ft.com/content/75527cce-9748-4aec-b6e6-7c7828460d2a

[22] Thomas Day, Silke Mooldijk, Sybrig Smit, Eduardo Posada, Frederic Hans, Harry Fearnehough, Aki Kachi, Carsten Warnecke, Takeshi Kuramochi, Niklas Höhne. 2022. Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor 2022: Assessing The Transparency And Integrity Of Companies’ Emission Reduction And Net-Zero Targets. NewClimate Institute & Carbon Market Watch. February 2022. https://newclimate.org/sites/default/files/2022–06/CorporateClimateResponsibilityMonitor2022.pdf

The former TAG member had voiced precisely this concern around SBTi serving as the standard-setter and validator in the 2 April 2019 Technical Advisory Group meeting.

[23] Science Based Targets initiative. 2022. The SBTi appoints first CEO to spearhead exponential growth in corporate climate action. 23 February 2022. https://sciencebasedtargets.org/news/the-sbti-appoints-first-ceo-to-spearhead-exponential-growth-in-corporate-climate-action; Ed Ballard. 2022. Group That Vets Corporate Climate Plans Aims to Strengthen Its Own Governance. Wall Street Journal. 23 February 2022. https://www.wsj.com/articles/group-that-vets-corporate-climate-plans-aims-to-strengthen-its-own-governance-11645638638

The Financial Times later made the same connection between the CEO appointment and “mounting criticism.” Pilita Clark. 2022.

New SBTi boss takes over as criticisms mount. Financial Times. 4 May 2022. https://www.ft.com/content/efb4043d-5c0d-47ceb342-cba34bb273d7

[24] Bianca Flowers and Ross Kerber. 2022. Corporate climate targets group SBTi to hire complaints director. Reuters. 2 May 2022. https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/corporate-climate-targets-group-sbti-hire-complaints-director-2022-05-02/

[25] Ibid.

[26] This climate science scenario is the Climate Equity Reference Calculator, created by the Stockholm Environment Institute and other partners: https://calculator.climateequityreference.org/

CSO retained the option to align with the most robust scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), namely SSP1–1.9. For more information on this scenario, see: https://www.carbonbrief.org/cmip6-the-next-generation-of-climatemodels-explained/

[27] See Milieudefensie et al v Royal Dutch Shell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milieudefensie_et_al_v_Royal_Dutch_Shell, and in particular paragraph 4.4.35: “Despite this broad consensus, few targets explicitly operationalize equity by providing differentiated guidance on net zero targets to different actors… In another case, the global carbon budget is divided into sectoral allocation which are then apportioned to individual companies based on their emissions footprint (SBTi)… How to effectively operationalize equity considerations remains an open question for the climate action community.” https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocumentid=ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2021:5339

[28] Jason Hickel & Aljosa Slamersak. 2022. Existing climate mitigation scenarios perpetuate colonial inequalities. The Lancet Planetary Health. Volume 6, Issue 7. Pages e628-e631. July 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00092-4

[29] Oxford Lexico. n.d. Colonization. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/colonization

[30] Wikipedia. n.d. Colonization. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization

[31] Lewis & Maslin. 2018. op cit.

[32] Email from Luiz Amaral to Bill Baue. 14 April 2022.

[33] Richard Mille. 2022. Forbes World‘s Billionaires List 2022. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/; Nicholas Kulish. 2021. Bezos Puts $1 Billion of $10 Billion Climate Pledge Into Conservation. New York Times. 20 September 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/business/jeff-bezos-earth-fund.html

[34] IKEA Foundation. n.d. Science-based target initiative (SBTi) evaluation. Learnings. https://ikeafoundation.org/lear

[35] Archive.org Wayback Machine. 2021. Learnings Landing Page. IKEA Foundation. 13 May 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20210513131450/https://ikeafoundation.org/learnings/

Consistent with its pattern of obfuscation and intransparency, SBTi inaccurately characterized this review as “unpublished” in the February 2022 FT article, and the SBTi CEO refused to honor requests to share the review with the Complainant (who took SBTi on its word that the review was unpublished) despite the fact that the review was a matter of public record.

[36] Deloitte. 2020. Science Based Targets Initiative: Review and Recommendations. IKEA Foundation. July 2020. https://ikeafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/040720-SBTi-Review-and-Recommandations-FINAL-REPORT.pdf

[37] Of the 15 quotes, 7 come from the SBTi Steering Committee, 5 from the SBTi Core Team, 2 from the SBTi Executive Board, and 1 from an SBTi Founding Organization.

[38] The 29 external stakeholders were comprised of 8 companies (with different statuses with regards to SBTi), 5 investors, 5 consultants, 4 researchers, 4 NGOs, 2 policy makers and 1 funder.

[39] The 400 web survey responses came from 209 companies, 79 consultancies, 40 environmental NGOs, 11 business-oriented NGOs, 8 others, 7 academics, 5 investors, 3 think tanks, 2 investor organizations, 2 international organizations, 1 policymaker, and 1 scientific institution

Earlier parts of this series:

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r3.0 is a pre-competitive & market-making non-profit delivering groundbreaking Blueprints, Transformation Journeys and Conferences for system value creation.