Microsoft Announce’s Goal To Become Carbon Negative


lcva2/iStock(NEW YORK ) — Microsoft has announced a plan to become carbon negative by 2030 and to remove all the carbon they have emitted since their founding by 2050.

The company will need to remove more carbon from the air than they release each year to become carbon negative. 

Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa tells ABC Audio climate change is the reason. “We looked at the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] best available science and a fairly alarming report that came out in 2018, the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said Joppa. “What that report ultimately said was that if we would like to achieve, or would like to mitigate climate change, below a 1.5 degree future, then we’re going to have to significantly reduce global emissions over the next decade or so, and we have to ultimately achieve a net zero carbon economy globally by 2050.” In a January 16 blog post on the company’s website, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company will reach their 2030 goal by cutting their direct emissions, and those of the entire supply and value chain, by more than half. They will do this several ways, including shifting to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, electrifying their global campus vehicle fleet by 2030, and by pursuing green building standards. In addition by July 2021, they will start new procurement processes and tools to enable and incentivize suppliers to reduce their own emissions. Smith says Microsoft will fund this goal by increasing their internal carbon fee, which has been in place since 2012, on both their direct emissions and those that come from their supply and value chains. Joppa says the timing of the announcement was important. “I think that between 2020 and 2030 this really is the decade to act, the decade to deliver,” said Joppa. “If we are going to have any hope of getting out ahead of climate change this is our last decade to do so. For us a week or so after we entered the decade, it was just the right time to significantly expand our commitments in the space of sustainability and carbon.” By 2030, Microsoft plans to remove more carbon from the air than they emit each year, which they say will put themselves on track to remove all the carbon they have since being founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. Joppa says the company did not track emissions since the beginning, so they used a model to calculate those emissions. “We estimated how much our cumulative historical emissions have been,” said Joppa. “We looked over the past decade and we built a model that associated the emissions of our corporation over the past decade with various factors that might have explanatory power, like the number of employees that we have, or the total annual revenue, and we built a model that allowed us to then back project from 1975 to today.” They will remove carbon using negative emission technologies, which could include afforestation, the planting of trees on barren land, reforestation, replanting trees in forests, or direct air capture, taking carbon dioxide directly from the air. Microsoft say’s they will initially focus on nature-based solutions do to current technology and pricing and will assess its carbon removal portfolio annually based on scalability, affordability, commercial availability and verifiability. The company is also launching a $1 billion dollar climate innovation fund to accelerate the development carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies. “We set up this $1 billion climate innovation fund as a separate financial vehicle to invest outside of our own four walls in carbon removal and reduction technologies and projects all around the world, ” said Joppa. “There is what Microsoft is doing and the fee that we are levying upon ourselves to pay for our carbon negative commitments, and this investment fund that’s intended to help accelerate a broader, more societal, path towards net zero carbon economy by 2050.” The company will use this fund to both accelerate ongoing technology development and invest in new innovations in carbon capture technology.Microsoft will release an annual Environmental Sustainability Report in order to be transparent about their progress. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.