Media Moves

Microsoft says will be carbon negative by 2030

January 17, 2020

Posted by Irina Slav

Microsoft has said it will aim to become carbon negative by 2030.

Rachel Koning Beals reported the news for MarketWatch:

Microsoft wants to clean up the carbon footprint at its own home base and throughout its supply chain, believing it can go “carbon negative” by 2030, executives said Thursday.

“This is the decade for urgent action for Microsoft and for all of us,” said CEO Satya Nadella, in a streaming broadcast of the announcement.

Carbon negativity is the reduction of a carbon footprint to less than neutral, with the net effect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding it. Only a handful of companies have committed to net-negative or, as they sometimes put it, “climate-positive,” greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Nadella added that Microsoft MSFT, +0.67%   believes by 2050 it can remove all the carbon it has emitted since the company’s 1975 founding.

Nadella said Microsoft will achieve its green-minded goal in part with a new $1 billion climate innovation fund and will look at the environmental impact not only at its headquarters, but at the energy used and emissions released by component-making and production for its Xbox game console and other products.

CNN’s Rishi Iyengar wrote:

The company’s plan involves cutting its carbon emissions — projected to be around 16 million metric tons this year — by more than half, both in its own operations and across its supply chain.

“We will fund this in part by expanding our internal carbon fee,” added Smith, referring to the $15-per-metric-ton tax that all of Microsoft’s business units pay based on their emissions.

The fee, which was instituted in 2012 and nearly doubled last year, will be broadened to include indirect emissions from activities such as manufacturing, business travel and the electricity customers may use on its products.

Measures to reduce its direct emissions include buying enough renewable energy to offset 100% of its electricity consumption by 2025 and using only electric vehicles on its global campuses by 2030. It will also set up a $1 billion “climate innovation fund” to develop carbon reduction technologies.

By 2050, Microsoft (MSFT) said it “will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.”

Justine Calma from The Verge noted:

The company has been carbon neutral since 2012, canceling out its emissions by purchasing renewable energy and carbon offsets. That’s also when it started charging an internal fee on its business units for the greenhouse gases they generate as a way to get its divisions to slash their emissions. Those measures are no longer ambitious enough for the company, according to Microsoft president Brad Smith. It now plans to source all of its electricity use from renewables by 2025. And it will start charging its businesses for the planet-heating gases they generate along the entire supply chain to help fund its new climate initiatives.

“It reminds me of the Microsoft of old. They used to do big, audacious stuff like this all the time and I’m glad to see that ethos return on a planetary basis. It’s also long overdue,” Julio Friedmann, a senior research scholar at Columbia University who previously led the Department of Energy’s R&D on carbon capture and storage, tells The Verge.

The most audacious commitment from Microsoft is its push to take carbon out of the atmosphere. The company is putting its faith in nascent technology, and it’s injecting a significant investment into a still controversial climate solution. Proponents of carbon capture, like Friedmann, say that the technology is mature enough to accomplish Microsoft’s aims. It’s just way too expensive right now. Microsoft’s backing — and its $1 billion infusion of cash — could ultimately make the tech cheaper and more appealing to other companies looking for new ways to go green.

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