Microsoft’s Moonshot Plan to Reverse Its Lifetime CO2 Emissions by 2050

Microsoft’s Moonshot Plan to Reverse Its Lifetime CO2 Emissions by 2050

Image Credit: Image by Bela Geletneky from Pixabay

The alarming headlines about Australia’s bush fires over the last couple weeks have heightened the global outcry over climate change, and companies, NGOs, and governments are taking action.

One of the most ambitious targets was set last week by Microsoft. In a press conference on January 16, CEO Satya Nadella announced that not only does the company plan to be carbon negative by 2030, but if it succeeds, the move will effectively cancel out its lifetime CO2 emissions by 2050.

Whew—that’s a lot, both for the company to commit to and for us to wrap our heads around.

First off, what does carbon negative mean, and how is it different than carbon neutral?

Neutral, Good

Committing to carbon neutrality has become something of a (laudable, necessary) fad in recent years, with companies like Amazon, Bosch, Nestle, L’Oreal, SAP, Google, and many others reaching carbon neutrality or pledging to reach it in the near future. This means they’re either eliminating their own emissions by, say, switching to 100 percent renewable energy, or they’re buying carbon offsets, which are credits that fund emissions-reduction projects around the world.

It’s not just companies jumping on the carbon-neutral bandwagon; countries and states are too. The UK pledged carbon neutrality by 2050, Hawaii by 2045, and Finland by 2035.

Negative, Better

It’s a pretty self-explanatory term, but to make sure we’re clear, going carbon negative means a company or other entity would take actions to remove more carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere than it’s putting in.

Right now, one of the best ways to do this is plain and simple: plant trees. Trees are a pretty amazing thing, and one we probably don’t think about or appreciate nearly often enough; is there anything else that can soak up our emissions, pollution, and dust—and look ethereally beautiful in the process?

Not to be easily outdone, though, tech is hot on nature’s heels with carbon-squashing solutions of its own. Two of the most talked-about are soil carbon sequestration, which involves restoring agricultural soil so it will retain or re-absorb more of its own natural carbon, and direct air capture, in which a giant fan pushes air through a filter that uses a chemical adsorbent to produce a pure CO2 stream, which can then be stored.

How Will Microsoft Do It?

Microsoft has a running start on its goal, as it’s been carbon neutral since 2012. Going negative will take a big push, but the company’s not short on projects and plans to get itself there.

For starters, it will expand the reach of its internal carbon tax—which it upped from $8 to $15 per metric ton last year—to impact its suppliers on top of its own business units. Using suppliers with a high carbon footprint will cost the company more, motivating it to seek out the most planet-friendly and, in a likely ripple effect, motivating the not-as-planet-friendly to get their ducks in a row emissions-wise.

The company will also start measuring its total carbon footprint in a far more conservative way, leaving nearly no stone un-turned: it will account for emissions from employee business travel, its building materials, its existing supply chain, and even the energy its customers will consume when using its products.

Finally, Microsoft is putting $1 billion into a climate innovation fund, which will focus on investments that could drive meaningful sustainability-related impact, additional market impacts on current and future climate solutions, and climate equity considerations.

Big Tech, Big Task

Given the outsized power and influence tech companies wield in today’s screen-addicted, information-guzzling, data-dependent world, and the unintended consequences the tech sector has visited on it, it’s right for behemoths like Microsoft to be holding high the torch of corporate social responsibility. That responsibility extends across multiple issues, from privacy and security to misinformation, technological unemployment, mental health, and many more.

The well-being of the planet is arguably one of the most urgent of these; after all, if we don’t have a pollution- and disaster-free place to live, all that other stuff won’t end up mattering much.

Speaking at the press conference last week, Nadella summed up the importance of Microsoft’s moonshot emissions plan bluntly and succinctly. “The world is presented with an urgent climate crisis,” he said. “If we don’t curb emissions, science tells us the results will be devastating.”

About The Author

Vanessa is senior editor of Singularity Hub. She's interested in renewable energy, health and medicine, international development, and countless other topics. When she's not reading or writing you can usually find her outdoors, in water, or on a plane.

This Article Originally Appeared On Singularity Hub

Related Books

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer
9780143130444In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. Available On Amazon

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy

by Hal Harvey, Robbie Orvis, Jeffrey Rissman
1610919564With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions is nothing less than urgent. It’s a daunting challenge, but the technologies and strategies to meet it exist today. A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well. Available On Amazon

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

by Naomi Klein
1451697392In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

LATEST VIDEOS

Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
kelp forrest 7 12
How The Forests Of The World’s Oceans Contribute To Alleviating The Climate Crisis
by Emma Bryce
Researchers are looking to kelp for help storing carbon dioxide far beneath the surface of the sea.
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
by Ken Buesseler
The ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. The driving force comes from tiny plankton that produce…
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
by Gabriel Filippelli and Joseph D. Ortiz
“Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil” is not what anyone wants to hear about their city’s tap water. But the combined effects of…
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
by Gregg Howe and Nathan Havko
For millennia, insects and the plants they feed on have been engaged in a co-evolutionary battle: to eat or not be…
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
by Swapnesh Masrani
Ambitious targets have been set by the UK and Scottish governments to become net-zero carbon economies by 2050 and 2045…
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
by Theresa Crimmins
Across much of the United States, a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception.

LATEST ARTICLES

Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
by Ann Rowan
In the world of glaciology, the year 2007 would go down in history. It was the year a seemingly small error in a major…
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
by Edward Lempinen
By the end of this century, tens of millions of people could die each year worldwide as a result of temperatures rising…
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
by Janet Stephenson
A proposed multibillion-dollar project to build a pumped hydro storage plant could make New Zealand’s electricity grid…
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
by Guaduneth Chico et al
Wind power in the UK now accounts for nearly 30% of all electricity production. Land-based wind turbines now produce…
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
by Stuart Capstick
In new research, we have identified what we call 12 “discourses of delay”. These are ways of speaking and writing about…
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
by Gunnar W. Schade
If you’ve driven through an area where companies extract oil and gas from shale formations, you’ve probably seen flames…
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
by Avit K Bhowmik
Europe’s major airlines are likely to see their turnover drop by 50% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,…
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
by Steven Sherwood et al
We know the climate changes as greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the exact amount of expected warming remains…