American tech giant Microsoft has made an ambitious pledge to effectively reverse the company’s historical contributions to climate change, and says will remove the entirety of its carbon footprint made since the company’s founding 45 years ago.
Microsoft has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030, and will further aim to become carbon negative by 2050 and will undertake measures to remove emissions from the company’s operations dating back to 1975.
The announcement may represent the next step in major corporate commitments on climate change, which has seen hundreds of companies to commit to purchasing all of their electricity from renewable sources. But few, if any, have gone as far as to commit to eliminating their historical greenhouse gas emissions.
“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,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said.
“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.”
Microsoft says that it will also work to assist customers and suppliers to reduce their own emissions, and will establish a $1 billion climate innovation fund to support research in carbon reduction, capture and storage technologies.
“The scientific consensus is clear. The world confronts an urgent carbon problem. The carbon in our atmosphere has created a blanket of gas that traps heat and is changing the world’s climate. Already, the planet’s temperature has risen by 1 degree centigrade. If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic,” the company said in a blog post.
“We are also launching an initiative to use Microsoft technology to help our 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, we will also make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of our procurement processes for our supply chain.”
The company will work to reduce its own emissions, by shifting all of its electricity consumption at its campuses and data centres to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025 and shifting all of the company’s vehicle fleet to electric vehicles by 2030.
The company had previously entered into major corporate power purchase agreements in 2018 with two American solar farms, with a combined output of over 500MW as part of the company’s goal to purchase 60 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
At the time, it was one of the world’s largest corporate PPA agreements.
From July this year, the company will also begin applying an internal “carbon tax” to the company’s operation, covering the company’s Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, and will begin at an initial price of US$15 per tonne. The proceeds of the internal carbon tax will be re-invested in measures to reduce Microsoft’s emissions footprint.
By 2030, the company will begin investing in the removal of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, through investments in afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, and direct air capture projects.
The company will use the newly established $1 billion innovation fund to develop the technologies the company will ultimately use to capture emissions from the atmosphere.
The company said that it would report on the progress made to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions footprint, and will actively lobby governments for new public policies that will support and accelerate carbon reductions.
Tech companies have emerged as some of the leaders in corporate commitments to tackling climate change, including Australian based tech firm Atlassian, which has also committed to purchase 100 per cent of the electricity used by the company and its data centres by 2025.
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has also become an outspoken advocate for greater action on climate change from governments, and has been heavily involved in the development of a $20 billion proposal to supply Singapore with renewable energy generated from Australia.