The goal of a forecast is to make an accurate prediction about the future state of a system based on the best available evidence.
The goal of target setting is to make a statement about a desired future state – with or without a forecast.
Targets are political artifacts. You can read all about such dynamics in public policy here.
Forecasts, ideally, are scientific artifacts.
The interplay between forecasts and targets is particularly interesting. Those who produce sophisticated forecasts should understand that the motivation of those probing models is to assess whether or not a future state is possible, or, in certain situations, just how probable a given scenario could be.
Don’t become trapped into the mindset that a trend is locked in permanently. Actively explore what needs to be true, in which circumstances, to produce a better outcome. Most importantly, and I’m learning this the very hard way, make every attempt to make affirmative recommendations.