- Microsoft announced a plan on Thursday to become carbon negative by 2030 — meaning that it will remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits.
- The company’s ultimate goal is to remove from the environment by 2050 all of the carbon the company has emitted since it was founded in 1975.
- Brad Smith, the company’s president, released a plan that includes converting to renewable energy sources, focusing on using electric vehicles, and expanding an internal carbon tax.
- Microsoft will also launch $1 billion fund to finance carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies over the next four years.
- Climate change has become a workplace issue for technology companies as employees call for greater measures to reduce their impact.
- This article is part of the Better Capitalism series, which tracks the ways companies and individuals are rethinking the economy and role of business in society.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Microsoft announced a plan on Thursday to become carbon negative by 2030 — meaning that it will remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits. The company’s ultimate goal is to remove from the environment by 2050 all of the carbon the company has emitted since it was founded in 1975.
The plan, unveiled by Microsoft President Brad Smith on Thursday, includes a converting to renewable energy sources, focusing on using electric vehicles, expanding an internal carbon tax, and launching a $1 billion fund to finance carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies over the next four years.
Smith at a pre-briefing of the news earlier this week spoke about the initiative not only as a means to reduce and remove Microsoft’s carbon emissions, but to “take one step that will bring more of the business community into conversation about this issue” and help the larger public understand how carbon offsetting works.
“This is a bold bet — a moonshot — for Microsoft,” Smith said in announcing his plan. “And it will need to become a moonshot for the world.”
Microsoft plans to remove more carbon than it emits by 2030 and by 2050 remove all of the carbon Microsoft has emitted directly, or through electrical consumption, since it was founded in 1975. Microsoft will publish a report on its progress annually.
Microsoft Workers 4 Good, a Twitter account associated with a loose confederation of activist employees, have said Microsoft’s goal is incompatible with “contracts that aim to increase oil extraction,” such as the company’s business relationships with oil and gas companies.
Economy: The plan
The company wants to remove carbon through building a portfolio each year of negative emissions technologies, which could include creating and replacing forests, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in soil, and other means to capture and store carbon.
Microsoft has a detailed plan including shifting to 100 percent renewable energy sources for its data centers and buildings by 2025, using electric vehicles for its global campus operations by 2030 and pursuing green building certification for its campus overhauls at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters and in Silicon Valley.
Microsoft plans to cut emissions in half by 2030 – both its direct emissions and through its supply and value chain – in an effort funded by the expansion of Microsoft’s internal carbon fee.
Right now, Microsoft divisions pay a $15 fee toward sustainability efforts for each metric ton of carbon they emitted either directly or through electrical consumption.
Smith said Microsoft will expand the fee to include carbon emitted through its supply chain, calculating things like the carbon emitted by manufacturing the products it buys or producing the materials it uses in buildings.
The company also plans carbon reduction an explicit part of its procurement process when it selects suppliers beginning next summer.
Economy: The $1 billion fund
As part of the plan, Microsoft will launch a new $1 billion fund to “accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.”
Microsoft plans to invest $1 billion over the next four years through a mix of project and debt finance – essentially loans – as well as equity investments.
Microsoft will evaluate investments based on criteria including whether the investment has the prospect of driving meaningful decarbonization, and whether a technology Microsoft can use to address its own “climate debt,” as Smith called it, and emissions.
Economy: Climate change becomes a workplace issue
Meanwhile, climate change has become a contentious workplace issue for technology companies as employees call for greater measures to reduce their impact.
Amazon employees who criticized the company’s work with oil and gas companies, for example, recently said the company threatened to fire them for speaking out. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday called climate change deniers “unreasonable” and the company has said it has been supportive of climate change policies.
Microsoft since at least 2016 has tried to position itself as a leader in technology industry ethics – an effort led largely by Smith, who in his Microsoft biography mentions that the New York Times called him “a de facto ambassador for the technology industry at large.”