Target setting – Global and national goals you should be aware of

In part 1 of this blog post series, we investigated what the scope of your climate change target could be. In part 2 of this series on target setting, we will look at the global and national goals that you should be aware of.

Global bodies, countries and states are setting targets that reflect global concerns about climate change. An increasing number of organisations are also setting ambitious targets and seeking to provide leadership.

Global context for action

Internationally, there are three primary drivers for urgent action on climate.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Governments, businesses and civil society together with the United Nations are mobilising efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030[1]. The SDGs came into force on 1 January 2016, and call on action from all countries to end all poverty and promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Paris Agreement and Science Based Targets

To address climate change, signatory countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. The Agreement entered into force less than a year later. In the agreement, signatory countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5°C Celsius[2].

Targets adopted by organisations to reduce carbon emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement—to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Under the Science-Based Target initiative, as an alternative to setting percentage-reduction targets on scope 2 emissions, companies can instead set targets on the procurement of renewable energy. Such procurement targets are acceptable if they are in line with procuring 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and 100% by 2030.

Special IPCC report on 1.5°C warming

In October 2018 in Korea, governments approved the wording of a special report on limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The report indicates that achieving this would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society[3].

Figure 1: Global context for action on climate change

In addition, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019[4] highlights climate change-related outcomes as among the most likely to occur with the highest impacts to the global economy.

Figure 2: Global risks report – likelihood and impact of climate and other risks to the global economy

National, States and Territories targets

At a national level, Australia’s response to the Paris Agreement has been to set a goal for carbon emissions of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 and GHG emissions that are 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. A major policy that currently underpins this is the Renewable Energy Target (RET). This commits Australia to source 20% of its electricity (33,000 GWh p.a., estimated to equate to a real 23% of electricity) from eligible renewable energy sources by 2020. The scheme runs to 2030. These two key targets are illustrated below.

Australia’s renewable energy and carbon goals – National level
Figure 3: Australia’s renewable energy and carbon goals – National level


At a sub-national level, most states and territories have established aspirational emissions targets as well as some legislated targets for renewable energy.

Figure 4: Australia’s renewable energy and carbon goals – state and territory level

Setting a goal for your organisation

In setting a target for your organisation, you should consider global, national and goals of other companies in your sector. You should also evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities in your organisation to know what you can achieve with onsite measures. Offsite measures like procuring renewables or purchasing carbon offsets can help you with achieving more ambitious goals.

In part 3 of this series, we will look at challenges with achieving ambitious targets.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their carbon reduction strategy and advising on appropriate goals. If you need help with developing your targets, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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