On January 20, 2020, Microsoft Corporation joined the climate restoration economy when it announced a plan to not only reduce its carbon footprint, but to go carbon-negative; eventually removing all carbon the company has put into the atmosphere since it was founded in 1975.
While efforts to reduce carbon emissions (low-carbon) and cease carbon emissions (carbon-neutral) are certainly to be applauded, those are the goals we should have had for the past half-century: that’s how long we’ve known about the climate impacts of carbon emissions.
But we didn’t and now the climate crisis is upon us, as anyone in Australia can tell you. That means that we need to aggressively restore the climate…not just slow down the rate at which we’re destroying it. So, carbon-negative is the only appropriate goal: low-carbon and carbon-neutral are, in effect, eyewash…the stuff of PR campaigns, not of serious concern about the environment.
Specifically, Microsoft says it will be carbon-negative by 2030 (far too slow, of course), and that—by 2050—they will have removed from the atmosphere all of the carbon the company has emitted either directly, or by electrical consumption, since 1975.
At an event at its Redmond campus, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, President Brad Smith, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, and Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa announced the company’s new goals and a detailed plan to become carbon negative.
“While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so. That’s why today we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint,” said Smith.
“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,” he added.
The firm also announced a new initiative to use Microsoft technology to help its suppliers and customers around the world reduce their own carbon footprints, and a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies.
Beginning next year, the company will also make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of its procurement processes and supply chain. A new annual Environmental Sustainability Report will detail Microsoft’s carbon impact and reduction journey. And lastly, the company promises to use its voice and advocacy to support public policy that will accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft.