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What is a Science Based Target?

Science Based Targets are developed using models that calculate the level of carbon reduction a particular organisation needs to achieve in order to do its ‘fair share’ in reducing global emissions.

As their starting point, the models reflect the amount by which global emissions need to be reduced to ensure that the goals set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement are achieved. The Paris Agreement, which is an international response to the threat of climate change, aims to limit the increase in global average temperature during this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius (measured against pre-industrial levels), ideally limiting the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The models and data underlying the development of Science Base Targets are provided by the Science Based Targets Initiative and the International Energy Agency. Companies adopting their own Science Based Targets can have them assessed and validated by the Initiative, although this service is not yet available to the higher education sector. For more information on Science Based Targets, visit

What is the University’s target?

The University’s target is shown in the diagram below (click on the diagram to see it in more detail). The target has been set on the 1.5 degree temperature increase limit. It shows by how much and how quickly the University needs to reduce its emissions to ensure it is doing enough to help reduce global emissions to the levels that the latest climate science says is necessary to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. We will periodically review our target to ensure it reflects the latest climate science and data underlining the development of Science Based Targets.

University of Cambridge Science Based Target for Carbon Reduction


The University’s target has not yet been validated, but it has been developed by an external consultant who has direct, relevant experience and is a member of the Science Based Target Initiative’s Technical Advisory Group.