Technology giant Microsoft has announced plans to reduce and ultimately eliminate its carbon emissions, current as well as historical, as well as an investment of $1 billion in a climate innovation fund.
At an event at company headquarters last week, Microsoft's top executives outlined a program to take the company "carbon negative" by 2030 and to remove, by 2050, the equivalent of all the carbon it has emitted into the atmosphere — either directly or through its consumption of electricity — since its founding in 1975. To that end, Microsoft will work over the next decade to cut its carbon emissions by more than half — in part by expanding its internal carbon fee, which it has applied to its direct emissions of carbon since 2012, across its supply and value chains. According to the plan, reductions in supply chain emissions and the company's own operational emissions, combined with emissions offsets and carbon removal efforts, will result in the company having a net negative carbon footprint by 2030.
And to help suppliers and customers reduce their own carbon footprint, Microsoft will launch a $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies. Over the next four years, the fund will deploy most of its capital in two areas — project and debt finance aimed at accelerating ongoing technology development, and equity and debt capital in support of new innovations, with a focus on investments that meet four criteria: strategies that have the potential to drive meaningful decarbonization, climate resilience, or other sustainability-related impact; additional market impacts with respect to current and future climate solutions; technologies that Microsoft can use to address its unpaid climate debt and future emissions; and climate equity considerations.
In addition to the innovation fund, Microsoft will continue to invest in carbon monitoring and modeling projects through its AI for Earth program, a five-year, $50 million initiative launched in December 2017.
"We understand that this is just a fraction of the investment needed, but our hope is that it spurs more governments and companies to invest in new ways as well," Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote in a blog post. "Reducing carbon is where the world needs to go, and we recognize that it’s what our customers and employees are asking us to pursue. This is a bold bet — a moonshot — for Microsoft. And it will need to become a moonshot for the world."