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Getting ready for FLAG Guidance
Getting ready for FLAG Guidance

An overview of the upcoming forest, land and agriculture (FLAG) Guidance, and how HowGood will support companies who plan to set targets.

Jemima Snow avatar
Written by Jemima Snow
Updated over a week ago

The upcoming Greenhouse Gas Protocol Land Sector and Removals (LSR) Guidance will establish greenhouse gas accounting guidelines for land-based emissions and removals, including those related to Land Use Change (LUC).

LSR, in turn, is the accounting standard for the FLAG (Forest, Land and Agriculture) requirements released by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). They outline land sector-specific targets that will be required by companies who set SBTi targets in addition to their company-wide SBTi targets. The new guidance will require companies to set targets if they fall under certain SBTi sectors, or when land-intensive activities contribute 20% or more to their overall emissions. FLAG targets must be separate from their traditional science-based target that covers all other non-FLAG emissions.

What You Need To Know

Who is required to set FLAG targets?

The SBTi’s FLAG Guidance is relevant to companies who have committed to an SBTi target, and fall under one of the following categories:

  1. If they fall under one of the following SBTi sectors:

    • Forest & paper products

    • Food production - agricultural production

    • Food production - animal source

    • Food & beverage processing

    • Food & staples retailing

    • Tobacco

  2. If they fall under other SBTi sectors, but land-intensive activities contribute 20% or more of their overall Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Companies who have not, or do not plan to commit to an SBTi target are not required to set a FLAG target.

What does FLAG guidance cover?

FLAG is the land sector-specific initiative of SBTi, which aims to enable companies to reduce the 22% of global GHG emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use. The FLAG Guidance is the world’s first target-setting standard that covers land-related GHG emissions and removals. FLAG requires companies to set targets across three categories of land sector emissions reductions and removals, which are set out in the draft LSR guidance:

  1. Land Use Change Emissions - This aims to reduce emissions generated as a result of converting natural landscapes for agricultural purposes, including deforestation, forest degradation, and wetlands, peatlands and grasslands conversion.

  2. Land Management Emissions - This aims to reduce emissions generated as a result of agricultural practices, including enteric emissions, soil flooding, manure management, agricultural waste burning, fertilizer production and use, crop residues, on-farm machinery and transport of biomass.

  3. Carbon Removals and Storage - This aims to remove emissions from the atmosphere through climate-positive land practices, such as forest restoration, silvopasture, agroforestry, improved forest management and enhanced soil organic carbon.

Key Requirements of a FLAG target:

  1. Set near-term FLAG science-based targets: 5-10 year emission reduction targets in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

  2. Account for removals in near-term FLAG science-based targets: GHG removals include things like improving forest management practices, and enhancing soil carbon sequestration on working lands.

  3. Set long-term FLAG science-based targets: Companies in FLAG sectors will reduce at least 72% of emissions by no later than 2050. They should use the SBTi Net-Zero Standard to set long-term FLAG science-based targets.

  4. Zero deforestation targets must be set for no later than 2025: In line with the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi).

  5. Set science-based targets for fossil emissions: Businesses with land-based emissions are required to set FLAG science-based targets AND science-based targets, since all companies produce fossil emissions.

FLAG target-setting and reporting timelines

Companies that have set, or plan to set SBTi targets are required to set a FLAG target on the following timelines:

SBTi Target Set

FLAG Target Due By

Pre-April 30, 2023

Six months after the final release of the Land Sector and Removals Guidance (expected mid-2024)

Post April 30, 2023

On submission

Learn more about how you can use Latis to measure, manage, and report on FLAG emissions.

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