While some companies are pledging to become carbon neutral by 2030, Microsoft today made an ambitious promise to actually become carbon negative. That means that it will remove more carbon from the environment than it emits. The firm has been carbon neutral since 2012.
Microsoft said that since 2012, carbon neutral has been the goal, rather than being net zero. That means that it's been investing in avoiding emissions, rather than investing in actually removing carbon that's been emitted. And that's going to change. The plan now is to remove as much carbon from the environment as possible, and by 2050, the Redmond firm is planning to have removed all carbon that it has emitted since Microsoft was founded in 1975.
Microsoft outlined three different scopes of emissions. The first is the emissions that you directly create, like exhaust from your car. The second is indirect, like what's used in the production of heat or electricity that you use. Finally, the third is also indirect, but from other activities that you do, like carbon that's emitted from manufacturing the products that you buy. Of course, Microsoft is working on all three.
The firm says that out of the 16 million metric tons of carbon that it will emit this year, 100,000 are scope one, four million are scope two, and 12 million are scope three. So obviously, scope three is the biggest priority.
The plan that Microsoft laid out outlines seven principles:
- Grounding in science and math. We will continually ground our work in the best available science and most accurate math, as we describe further below.
- Taking responsibility for our carbon footprint. We will take responsibility for all our emissions, so by 2030 we can cut them by more than half and remove more carbon than we emit each year.
- Investing for new carbon reduction and removal technology. We will deploy $1 billion of our own capital in a new Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies that will help us and the world become carbon negative.
- Empowering customers around the world. Perhaps most importantly, we will develop and deploy digital technology to help our suppliers and customers reduce their carbon footprints.
- Ensuring effective transparency. We will publish an annual Environmental Sustainability Report that provides transparency on our progress, based on strong global reporting standards.
- Using our voice on carbon-related public policy issues. We will support new public policy initiatives to accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.
- Enlisting our employees. We recognize that our employees will be our biggest asset in advancing innovation, and we will create new opportunities to enable them to contribute to our efforts.
This is certainly one of the most ambitious plans that a company has presented regarding its carbon footprint, or climate change. Not only will it be carbon negative by 2030, but it's going to eliminate all carbon that it has emitted since it was founded by 2050, and Microsoft can be commended for working toward this goal.