Microsoft Sets 75% 2030 Emission Reduction Target

November 15, 2017 – Microsoft in 2009 made a pledge to reduce its carbon emissions by 30% from 2007 levels by 2012. This commitment focused on improving energy use in operations and facilities, reducing air travel, and increasing the use of renewable energy. At the time the company also pledged to develop software to help track and meet emission reduction goals.

Was Microsoft successful? The company established an internal carbon price. It created cloud-based software to track reductions. And by 2013 it achieved carbon neutrality in its direct operations including data centers, development laboratories, and administration buildings.

Eight years later and Microsft is looking to 2030 with a carbon emission reduction goal of 75% from the baseline achieved in 2013. The aim is to achieve Paris Climate Agreement decarbonization goals to keep the planet’s atmosphere from heating up beyond a global mean temperature no higher than 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

To achieve this the company wants to cut out 10 million metric tons of carbon emissions from its operations, and it intends to use the cloud-based software to help track its carbon consumption and plan for accelerated reduction. One initiative, the Microsoft Puget Sound headquarters, in Washington state, is slated to be powered by 100% carbon-free energy. The company is working with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and has signed a contract to meet its carbon-free energy goal. It has even introduced penalties should it not achieve the 100% emissions goal. The contract with the utility will also ensure that other local companies will benefit from reduced carbon emissions, and will facilitate the closing of the Colstrip Power Plant, a coal-fired thermal energy facility owned by Talen Energy, and located in Billings, Montana. Microsoft is even compensating the most energy vulnerable, low-income customers of PSE, picking up 50% of the cost of a move away from fossil fuel power generation to renewable sources.

 

 

Microsoft’s sprawling Puget Sound headquarters campus is moving to become carbon-free.

 

Microsoft has also launched a program it calls AI for Earth which uses artificial intelligence tools to help solve global environmental challenges. The company has appointed a Chief Environmental Scientist to tackle three specific assignments:

  • The creation of grants program for researchers and organizations to receive funding for the use of Microsoft’s cloud and AI computing resources to tackle environmental and sustainability projects looking at water, agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change.
  • The provision of educational and training tools to offer as many people around the world the means to use Microsoft’s technologies for the above-stated purposes.
  • The development of partnering programs that inspire innovation related to achieving successes in environmental and sustainability projects.

The company already has projects on the go where it is partnering with organizations. These include:

In a message to Microsoft employees, Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, he states, “As a global company, the changes we make in how we operate our business and the goals we set have a worldwide impact. It’s our hope that this pledge inspires others to join us in setting targets, and provides confidence to governments, companies and individuals that it’s possible for entities to help reach the goals set in the Paris climate agreement. By raising our ambitions and taking these actions, our goal is to help make the future more sustainable and beneficial to everyone.”


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...

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