Microsoft outlines bold decarbonisation goals

Microsoft Carbon Neutral
Brad Smith, Amy Hood and Satya Nadella, announcing Microsoft’s plan to be carbon negative by 2030. (Image: Brian Smale/Microsoft)

Carbon negative by 2030, addressing all historical emissions by 2050

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17 January 2020 | 0

Microsoft has announced an ambitious programme to not only reduce its carbon footprint, but to also take responsibility for and redress its historic emissions too.

In a blog post from president Brad Smith, the company commits to being carbon negative by 2030. However, in a first for such moves, Microsoft goes on to say the company will also, over the following two decades, redress all emissions since the company’s inception.

 

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“By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975,” writes Smith.

The post is stark in its assessment of the need to do something.

“By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.”

However, Microsoft is also clear on the responsibility of those who can do more, to do more.

“While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so,” writes Smith.

The post goes into detail about this will be achieved, incorporating both internal measures, supply chain and value chain also seeing significant actions, with a $1 billion (€900 million) investment to make it happen.

“We are also launching an initiative to use Microsoft technology to help our suppliers and customers around the world reduce their own carbon footprints,” writes Smith, “and a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies. Beginning next year, we will also make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of our procurement processes for our supply chain.”

Importantly, these efforts and initiatives will see scrutiny, as Microsoft commits to publishing action and progress reports, as it works itself and with third parties.

“Our progress on all of these fronts will be published in a new annual Environmental Sustainability Report,” writes Smith, “that will detail our carbon impact and reduction journey. And lastly, all this work will be supported by our voice and advocacy supporting public policy that will accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.”

While efforts to decarbonise industry have been ongoing for some time, Microsoft’s announcement is unusual for going further in detailing efforts and commitments to address historic carbon emissions. The extent of the funding and application of the commitments are also unusual, ensuring that partners and the wider ecosystem are also included.

The move may prompt other companies, perhaps even beyond the tech sector, to step up their own efforts to decarbonise, setting a new bar for achievement in the area.

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