Microsoft today announced that it’s committing to becoming carbon negative by 2030, eliminating all past carbon emissions by 2050, and the creation of a US$1 billion fund for investment in carbon removal technologies.

The announcement also included some new initiatives the company has planned to help its customers to take similar steps.

“The scientific consensus is clear that the world today is confronted with an urgent carbon crisis. Science tells us the results will be devastating,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, at the press conference. “This is the decade for urgent action to take bold steps forward to address our most pressing challenges.”

Nadella went on to explain that while the company has been carbon neutral since 2012, they recognized that this was not enough and made these commitments with a set of principles in mind and that “technology built without these principles do a lot more harm than good.”

As explained at the event, and in a subsequent blog post published by the company, Microsoft does not only intend to make these commitments to the carbon it directly emits, but also to any carbon emissions indirectly tied to them, such as from a supplier.
“Each of us will need to take action and that includes businesses,” explained Nadella. “No one company can solve this on their own.”
Some of the steps the company says it is taking to achieve these goals include:
  • Expand its internal carbon fee to include those indirect contributors such as supply chains and value chains.
  • Shift to 100 per cent supply of renewable energy by 2025, including having power purchase agreements for green energy contracted for 100 per cent of carbon-emitting electricity consumed by their data centers, buildings, and campuses.
  • Electrify its global campus operations vehicle fleet by 2030
  • Pursue International Living Future Institute Zero Carbon certification and LEED Platinum certification for its Silicon Valley Campus and Puget Sound Campus Modernization projects.
  • In July 2020, it will start phasing in its current internal carbon tax to cover its scope 3 emissions.
  • By July of 2021, it will begin to implement new procurement processes and tools to enable and incentivize its suppliers to reduce their scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.
A graph published by Microsoft to detail their path to carbon negative by 2030. Credit: Microsoft

Climate Innovation Fund

Beyond the commitments to ensure its own carbon footprint is reduced, Microsoft committed US$1 billion over the next four years to its new Climate Innovation Fund.

The company says that this fund will be focussed on accelerating ongoing technology development by investing in projects and debt finance and investing in new innovations through equity and debt capital.

The investments through this fund will need to match four criteria, according to Microsoft.

Those criteria include:

  • The prospect of driving meaningful decarbonization, climate resilience, or another sustainability impact.
  • The ability to provide additional market impact in accelerating current and potential solutions.
  • A relevance to Microsoft via technology that the company can use to address its unpaid climate debt and future emissions.
  • A consideration of climate equity, including developing economies.

Empowering others

The first initiative the company took to empower its customers was the release of a new tool, the Microsoft Sustainability Calculator, which analyzes estimated emissions from Azure services through a Power BI dashboard, allowing customers to properly understand the carbon footprint of their cloud services.

The other tool for empowerment that they released was a new 24/7 matching solution from Vattenfall that will ensure customers have the ability to choose the green energy they want and ensure their consumption matches that goal using Azure IoT.



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