Microsoft has announced some ambitious climate change goals over the next 20 years which aims to erase their whole individual contribution to the problem by 2050.
Noting that the world needed to reach “net zero” emissions, meaning that humanity must remove as much carbon as it emits each year, Microsoft says that those who could afford it needed to move faster.
Microsoft intends to be carbon negative by 2030, and by 2050 Microsoft says they will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.
They say by 2025, they will shift to 100 percent supply of renewable energy, via power purchase agreements for green energy contracted for 100 percent of carbon-emitting electricity consumed by all their data centres, buildings, and campuses. Microsoft will also electrify their global campus operations vehicle fleet by 2030.
The company will address not just their direct emissions but also that of their supply and value chain, by expanding their internal carbon fee, in place since 2012 , to start charging not only their direct emissions but those from their supply and value chains.
Microsoft is launching a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies. Microsoft will also make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of their procurement processes for their supply chain. The Climate Innovation Fund will commit to invest the $1 billion over the next four years into new technologies and expand access to capital around the world to innovators working on climate change.
Microsoft, however, believes that Microsoft’s most important contribution to carbon reduction will come not from their own work alone but by helping their customers around the world reduce their carbon footprints through their learnings and with the power of data science, artificial intelligence, and digital technology.
To aid this Microsoft is launching a new tool, the Microsoft Sustainability Calculator that analyzes the estimated emissions from Azure services through a Power BI dashboard. This helps customers better understand the carbon impact of their cloud workloads, discover the potential benefits from fully migrating to Azure, and assists them in reporting their carbon footprint for IT services for the often hard-to-track Scope 3 emissions.
Microsoft is also launching a new 24/7 matching solution with Vattenfall which gives customers the ability to choose the green energy they want and ensure their consumption matches that goal using Azure IoT. This new level of transparency can enable users to adjust their business operations to better fit the availability of the green energy they prefer, further decreasing their carbon footprint.
Lastly, Microsoft addresses the criticism that while the company may be carbon negative, they facilitate the work of the fossil fuel industry and thereby indirectly worsen climate change. They note that continued improvement in standards of living around the world will require more energy, not less, and that it is imperative that Microsoft enables energy companies to transition, including to renewable energy and to the development and use of negative emission technologies like carbon capture and storage and direct air capture.
Microsoft will publish their progress on all of these fronts in a new annual Environmental Sustainability Report and sign the United Nations’ 1.5-degree Business Ambition Pledge.
Read all the exhaustive detail at Microsoft’s blog here.