Among other environmental commitments, Microsoft pledges to be carbon negative by 2030

Microsoft President Brad Smith (left), Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood and CEO Satya Nadella preparing to announce Microsoft’s plan to be carbon negative by 2030. (Microsoft/Brian Smale)

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it is committing to becoming carbon negative by 2030 and that it will eliminate all past carbon emissions by 2050.  In addition, Microsoft also announced it's creating a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies.

"While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so," Microsoft President Bill Smith said in a blog.  "That’s why today we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint."

Starting next year, Microsoft will make carbon reduction an explicit part of its procurement process for its supply chain, according to Smith.

Sponsored by Blue Planet, a division of Ciena

Automation: Take the fast lane on your path to 5G

Automation will play a critical role in helping operators speed the delivery of 5G networks and derive new revenues.

"Our progress on all of these fronts will be published in a new annual Environmental Sustainability Report that will detail our carbon impact and reduction journey," Smith said. "And lastly, all this work will be supported by our voice and advocacy supporting public policy that will accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities. "

Smith laid out an extensive roadmap for how Microsoft will reduce its carbon footprint including the shift to 100% renewable energy by 2025 and electrifying its global campus operations vehicle fleet by 2030.

Microsoft is also expanding its carbon fee to indirect contributors such as supply chains and value chains. In July, Microsoft will start phasing in its current carbon tax to cover its "scope 3 emissions." By July of 2021, Microsoft will begin to implement new procurement processes and tools to enable and incentivize its suppliers to reduce their scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

An example of how it's working on reducing carbon emissions, Microsoft launched a new tool on Thursday. The Microsoft Sustainability Calculator analyzes the estimated emissions from Microsoft Azure services through a Power BI dashboard. It helps customers better understand the carbon impact of their cloud workloads.

RELATED: Verizon issues $1B in green bonds to fund companywide environmental initiatives

Aside of its commitments to reduce its own carbon footprint, Microsoft announced its $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund.

"Our new Climate Innovation Fund will commit to invest $1 billion over the next four years into new technologies and expand access to capital around the world to people working to solve this problem," Smith said. "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."

Smith said Microsoft would deploy the funding across two areas; accelerating ongoing technology development by investing in project and debt finance; and investing in new innovations through equity and debt capital. The investments in the fund will need to match four criteria:

• Strategies that have the prospect of driving meaningful decarbonization, climate resilience, or other sustainability impact;

• Additional market impact in accelerating current and potential solutions;

• A relevance to Microsoft by creating technologies it can use to address its unpaid climate debt and future emissions;

• A consideration of climate equity, including for developing economies.

"The significance and complexity of the task ahead is incredible and will require contributions from every person and organization on the planet," Smith said. "That’s why we are committed to continuing to work with all our customers, including those in the oil and gas business, to help them meet today’s business demands while innovating together to achieve the business needs of a net zero carbon future.

"Continued improvement in standards of living around the world will require more energy, not less. It’s imperative that we enable energy companies to transition, including to renewable energy and to the development and use of negative emission technologies like carbon capture and storage and direct air capture. All this must be paired together to achieve the growing energy needs of an expanding global economy."

Suggested Articles

For the fourth straight year, AT&T ruled the roost for on-net fiber lit buildings in the U.S., according to research by Vertical Systems Group.

Colt's decision to invest heavily in SDN-based networking is foundational to its ability to handle increased traffic loads due to COVID-19.

Microsoft plans to work with other operators soon, including Rogers, Telefonica, Vodafone Business, SK Telecom, Telstra, Etisalat and NTT.