This article is provided by BRC Associate Member CarbonCloud.


The Forest Land and Agriculture Guidance from SBTi had retailers and food producers on the edge of their seat until its release in September 2022. Since April 2023 FLAG targets are a requirement and the deadline to submit is close. Retailers committing to SBTi from this point onwards or with near-term targets approved before 2020 must submit FLAG targets by the end of 2023, while retailers with near-term targets approved after 2020 have until the end of 2024 to submit their FLAG targets.

What is FLAG?

FLAG is guidelines released by the Science-Based Targets initiative on how to set emissions reduction targets for activities along their value chain that involve forestry, land use and agriculture, which amount to 22% of global emissions. FLAG targets cover the portion of emissions until farm gate and they are required for companies with activities in agriculture, animal sourcing, food processing, and food retail – or companies with over 20% of FLAG-related emissions in Scopes 1, 2, 3.

What are the options within FLAG targets?

FLAG targets are divided into two sets:

The whole-sector approach involves reducing emissions from FLAG-related products and activities altogether. Whole-sector targets may be near-term, covering the next 5-10 years or long-term targets to reduce at least 72% of FLAG-emissions by no later than 2050. The threshold is reduction of minimum 95% for Scopes 1 + 2 targets and reduction of at least 2/3 of emissions for Scope 3 targets. Near-term FLAG targets are set in a separate tool provided by SBTi while long-term targets presently apply only to emissions from agriculture in the “Net-zero tool” that covers general targets. Guidance for long-term forestry emissions will be released later on however, all companies committing to FLAG-targets by default also commit to zero deforestation by 2025, at latest.

The commodity approach involves emissions from 11 major commodities with a high carbon footprint. The 11 commodities are: Beef, chicken, dairy, leather, maize, palm oil, pork, rice, soy, wheat, and timber & wood fiber. In general, companies with a diverse portfolio, like grocers, are encouraged to use the general FLAG targets. However, retailers may use the commodity approach, which is available for companies serving end-consumers or companies with more than 10% of their FLAG emissions in one commodity but are not required to do so. Lastly, commodity targets can be in absolute terms, reducing emissions by a fixed amount e.g. 20% reduced emissions from beef by 2030, or in terms of intensity, reducing emissions relative to an economic or operative unit, e.g. 20% reduced emissions per frozen burger sold by 2030.

How does a retailer go about submitting FLAG targets?

For retailers submitting SBTi targets now, FLAG targets are set alongside the general emissions targets – what SBTi calls the cross-sector pathway. Retailers with already approved SBTi targets will need to submit just FLAG targets using the FLAG tool for near-term targets and the Net-Zero tool for long-term targets.

The most resource-consuming yet most valuable task for retailers submitting FLAG targets is the greenhouse gas inventory for FLAG emissions. This inventory includes the collective ghg emissions of all food, beverage, and tobacco products until farm gate and will serve as the emissions baseline.

The FLAG inventory is usually particularly taxing as it requires a complete measurement of emissions localized to the full product assortment, a per-gate separation of these emissions visualized in percentage as well as in weight of CO2e, and for retailers deciding to take the commodity route, a per-ingredient calculation and per-gate separation of emissions for each commodity. Nevertheless, the FLAG inventory is a retailer’s detailed map that speeds up setting impactful and compliant FLAG targets.

Keen to simplify the measurement and segmentation process and jump straight to the value, CarbonCloud provides retailers with per-gate segmentation and your FLAG inventory straight out of the box, with metrics conforming to the GHG Protocol Product Standard and ISO 14067 as requested by SBTi. If your organization is lost in the target-setting process, reach out to CarbonCloud to simplify your FLAG targets!