Sustainability: SBTi Verifies Springer Nature’s Targets

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The Sustainable Business Report that Springer Nature released in April gets an update with new verifications of its targets from SBTi.

A murmuration of starlings at Tønder in the south of Denmark, September 14. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Stigalenas

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also: Gaia Vince–a former editor in Nature journals–keynotes at Frankfurt’s Opening Press Conference

‘A Responsibility To Reduce Our Own Carbon Emissions’
In the run-up to a Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22) in which sustainability will figure into many discussions and programming events, Springer Nature has announced today (October 5) that its net-zero targets have been verified by SBTi. In addition, the company has provided new details on its “Scope 3” emissions. These points help clarify, the company says, its pathway to net-zero by 2040.

To refresh you quickly, SBTi is the Science Based Targets Initiative, designed to “drive ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling organizations to set science-based emissions reduction targets.” Affiliated with the United Nations’ Global Compact and World Resources Institute, SBTi functions as an accreditation agency for participating entities and provides guidance in procedures and developments.

And discussions of emissions “scopes” are based in three stages:

  • Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by a company
  • Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heat, and cooling
  • Scope 3 emissions, the subject of the update today from Springer Nature, are all other emissions associated with a company’s activities

Springer Nature’s net-zero supplement follows its 2022 Sustainable Business Report, issued on April 5

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, we covered on April 5 the release by Springer Nature of its Sustainable Business Report 2022.  Today’s update relays to the news media SBTi’s verification of these science-based emissions reductions targets:

  • 54.6 percent reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2032
  • 32.5 percent reduction in scope 3 emissions by 2032
  • 90 percent reduction across all scopes target to reach net zero by 2040

These figures have a baseline year of 2019. The 2040 targets cover Scopes 1 and 2 combined, as well as Scope 3.

In terms of what’s involved in the newly assessed Scope 3 targets, the company says its taking action in the areas of digital delivery of content; changes to travel policies; and working with suppliers on common goals.

In a comment on today’s information, the Springer Nature Group director of sustainability Thea Sherer is quoted, saying, “Through our role as a trusted research publisher, we contribute to advancing solutions to mitigate climate change by widely disseminating leading research.

Thea Sherer

“Since 2015, we’ve published more than 60,000 articles or book chapters on climate action. However we also have a responsibility to reduce our own carbon emissions as a global business.

“Having our targets validated by SBTi is an important step for us as we set out to deliver for our customers while having a lighter impact on the planet. … We look forward to putting the science we publish into action as we move toward net zero by 2040.”

Setting targets is one element the Springer Nature Group’s net zero plan. The company touts “significant inroads” in reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and since 2020 has been carbon-neutral for its offices, warehouses, fleet, and flights through purchasing high-quality carbon offsets.

Media messaging today says that Springer Nature’s administration now is “prioritizing emission reductions in line with SBTi guidance. The company reports that in 2021 it was the first publisher to sign the Climate Pledge.

The net-zero supplement to Springer Nature’s April report can be found here (PDF).

At Frankfurt Book Fair, Springer Nature’s stand will be found at Hall 4.0 / D16.

A programming note: At Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22) on Frankfurt Thursday, October 19, our Publishing Perspectives Forum will welcome guests to a special session, “Sustainability for Small- and Medium-Sized Publishers.”

We’re very glad to announce that our speakers are:

  • Sherri Aldis, director of the United Nations’ Regional Information Center for Western Europe, Belgium
  • Rachel Martin, global director of sustainability with Elsevier, in the Netherlands

We’re specifically concerned that while many major corporations of the size of Springer Nature can appoint officers of sustainability initiatives and support them with the resources to make the kinds of important commitments and much appreciated changes we see being made at Springer Nature, Elsevier, and other companies, the smaller publishers of the world book industry may find it harder to determine where to start, let alone how to accomplish what they need. Our session on October 19 at 11 a.m. is designed to address exactly that, with a special update on the status of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals from the world body’s Sherri Aldis, subsequent to last month’s UN General Assembly in New York.

All Publishing Perspectives Forum events are set again this year in Room Spektrum on the second level of the Congress Center, and are free of charge for all registered Frankfurt Book Fair attendees. Below, a partial map of Frankfurt’s hall plan has on it a circle and arrow indicating the location of Room Spektrum. We recommend you approach by way of the elevated walkway running along Hall 5.

We remind all publishers who aren’t yet signatories to the UN-IPA SDG Publishers Compact that they can find information detailing the 10 pledges the compact commitment entails here, with background on the program.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the climate crisis is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on sustainability in the international publishing industry is here, more on the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals is here, and more on the IPA and UN SDG Publishers Compact is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.