Microsoft Will Spend $1B On 'Climate Innovation,' Sets 'Carbon Negative' Goal

The company aims to remove more carbon than it produces by 2030, before moving on to an even more ambitious climate goal for 2050.


Microsoft on Thursday announced it will create a $1 billion "climate innovation fund" focused on advancing carbon-reducing technologies, as part of the company’s expanded effort to battle climate change.

The tech giant also pledged that by 2030, it will have reached a point where it is removing more carbon than the company produces--making Microsoft "carbon negative."

[Related: HP's Sustainable Impact Report: 5 Key Takeaways For Partners]

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In a blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith alluded to the company's prosperous position in the industry as a key enabler for acting aggressively on climate change.

"While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so," Smith said in the post.

After achieving carbon negative status within a decade, Microsoft is pledging to attain an even more ambitious environmental goal within three decades: "by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975," Smith wrote.

Driven by its success in cloud technologies, such as the Azure cloud platform and Office 365, Microsoft has seen strong growth in recent years that has helped to garner an increased stock price and sizable profits. Cloud computing, however, results in a massive carbon impact that Microsoft is committing to tackle--including through using its technology to help customers and suppliers reduce their carbon footprints, Smith said.

The $1 billion climate innovation fund, meanwhile, will seek “to accelerate the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies that will help us and the world become carbon negative," he wrote.

For the effort to reverse Microsoft's own carbon impact, the company outlined a series of steps including moving to 100-percent renewable energy by 2025; moving to electric vehicles for campus operations worldwide by 2030; and expanding its internal carbon tax--paid by Microsoft's various divisions based on their carbon emissions--to cover emissions that are produced indirectly.

"For a business, these emission sources can be extensive, and must be accounted for across its entire supply chain, the materials in its buildings, the business travel of its employees, and the full life cycle of its products, including the electricity customers may consume when using the product," Smith noted.

Additionally, by this coming July, Microsoft is promising to start rolling out new processes and tools for procurement, which will help to prompt suppliers to reduce their emissions.

Ultimately, "by 2030 Microsoft will remove more carbon than it emits, setting us on a path to remove by 2050 all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975," Smith wrote. "We will achieve this through a portfolio of negative emission technologies (NET) potentially including afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCs), and direct air capture (DAC)."

Smith added that while it "won’t be easy for Microsoft to become carbon negative by 2030," the company believes that it is "an achievable goal."

"We believe we launch this new initiative today with a well-developed plan and a clear line of sight, but we have problems to solve and technologies that need to be invented," he wrote.