Many companies have set carbon neutral or zero emissions targets. Microsoft takes it to another level and pledges to be carbon negative by 2030. Not only that, Microsoft also commits to remove its historical carbon emissions by 2050 and to launch a new $1 billion climate innovation fund.
A company becomes carbon negative by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. The company can achieve that in different ways like seeding new forests and using carbon capture and storage technologies. It also can offset its emissions by investing in projects that reduce emissions elsewhere.
How is Microsoft going to do it? Microsoft explained this in their announcement from January 16th 2020 and is also in the company’s blog. For starters, by 2025 they will shift their energy supply to 100% renewable energy, meaning that they will have power purchase agreements for green energy contracted for 100% of carbon emitting electricity consumed by all their data centers, buildings, and campuses. They will change their vehicle fleet for electric cars by 2030 and will pursue International Living Future Institute Zero Carbon certification and LEED Platinum certification. They also have an internal carbon tax that is paid by each of their divisions. Additionally, by 2021, they will implement new procurement processes to enable suppliers to reduce their emissions as well.
How is Microsoft going to remove their historical carbon emissions? They will offset the amount of historical emissions by investments and creating a portfolio of negative emission technologies which will include afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage and direct air capture.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, announced their commitment to sustainability by saying “each of us must commit to do more in order for us to collectively achieve more”. Nadella has always wanted to see Microsoft become a leader in environmental, social and governance. Proved by his letter to employees on his first day as CEO, he stated that Microsoft has the talent, resources and perseverance to change the world; and now they are committing to it.
As several companies have realized by now, customers are asking that companies make bolder commitments to sustainability. But these requests do not come only from climate-savvy customers but from shareholders too, so it is beneficial for the corporations to comply with those commitments and even come up with greater goals. It only increases the company’s credibility and sustainability credentials which could translate into new investors.
The evidence of climate change is everywhere. Not only with natural events like tornadoes getting stronger, but seasons are changing sooner and even iguanas are falling from trees in Florida because it is colder than usual. Considering all the above plus tons of other evidence, more companies should be aiming to what Microsoft is signing up for or similar. At this point, anything counts.