On the climate boost, Microsoft will erase its carbon footprint from the atmosphere

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp said Thursday that its goal is to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits by 2030 and that by 2050, it expects to have taken enough to account for all direct emissions that the company has made.

FILE PHOTO: The Microsoft logo is displayed before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ​​Spain, February 24, 2019. REUTERS / Sergio Perez

The focus on removing existing carbon from the atmosphere distinguishes Microsoft’s climate goals from other corporate promises that have focused on reducing current emissions or preventing future ones.

Speaking from a stage at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, executive director Satya Nadella said corporations need to create cost-effective solutions to the problems of people and the planet.

“If the last decade has taught us anything, it is that technology built without these principles can do more harm than good,” he said. “We must begin to compensate for the harmful effects of climate change,” he said, adding that if global temperatures continue to rise endlessly “the results will be devastating.”

The announcement of the world’s largest software company is the latest in a series of climate goals set by companies after President Donald Trump announced in 2017 his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the global pact for Fight climate change.

Microsoft plans to reduce its carbon emissions by more than half by 2030 throughout its supply chain. The plan includes the creation of a “Climate Innovation Fund”, which will invest $ 1 billion over the next four years to accelerate the development of carbon removal technology.

The effort “will require a technology by 2030 that today does not exist completely,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.

He added that Microsoft will also extend an internal rate that has charged its business groups to account for their carbon emissions.

Since 2012, Microsoft has assessed the rate on direct emissions, electricity use and air travel, among other activities, but will expand it to cover all emissions related to Microsoft.

“That money is used, then, for us to invest in our work to reduce our carbon emissions,” he said.

Co-founder Bill Gates was one of the first sponsors of Carbon Engineering based in British Columbia, one of the few companies that developed direct air capture technology.

Microsoft’s goal of having removed enough carbon by 2050 to account for all its emissions since its founding in 1975 encompasses direct emissions from sources such as company vehicles and indirect emissions from electricity use, he said.

But even when technology companies have intervened with their own climate goal plans, they have faced criticism from their employees for doing very little.

Amazon.com Inc, the world’s largest online retailer, promised last year to be “net zero carbon” by 2040 and buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from a startup, after employee activists pressured the retailer to adopt A tougher stance on climate change.

Microsoft plans to become zero net carbon a decade before Amazon, although this is partly due to its emissions being approximately one third less.

Microsoft expects to release 16 million metric tons of CO2 by 2020, including indirect emissions from activities such as corporate travel.

Amazon operates a larger cloud business than Microsoft and a massive retail and logistics organization, with packaging, delivery and customer trips to its Whole Foods chain of stores that accumulate on its carbon footprint. Including indirect sources, it emitted more than 44 million metric tons of carbon in 2018.

It was not immediately clear if the figures reported by the companies were exactly comparable.

Both Microsoft and Amazon have been criticized by technology activists who have demanded that they stop providing technology to oil and gas companies. Microsoft announced in 2017 a multi-year agreement to sell cloud services to the US energy giant Chevron Corp.

In a blog post, Microsoft reiterated on Thursday its commitment to work with oil and gas companies.

“It is imperative that we allow energy companies to transition, including renewable energy and the development and use of negative emission technologies such as carbon capture and storage and direct air capture,” said Microsoft.

Reports by Stephen Nellis and Jeffrey Dastin; Edwina Gibbs and Bernadette Baum edition

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