For sustainable society


Achieving the initiative with proper plans and targets even on a moonshot

Microsoft has set a goal of being “carbon neutral” since 2012 and has been working on activities by investing mainly in offsets to avoid CO2 emissions, rather than removing CO2 already emitted. However, Microsoft has determined that achieving carbon neutral is not enough to avoid the risks of climate change and has set an ambitious goal to realize “carbon negative” to remove more CO2 than the company emits every year by 2030. In addition, the company announced that it would remove by 2050 all direct and indirect CO2 that has been emitted since its foundation in 1975.

It has been carefully planned to achieve this ambitious goal, and “carbon negative” consist of three major components: First, by the mid-2020s, it will reduce CO2 emitted directly from activities and indirectly from electricity and heating to almost zero. In order to achieve the first component, the company signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), and steps are being taken to make electricity used in data centers and buildings 100% renewable energy and to convert vehicles on campus around the world into electric vehicles.

Second, it will reduce indirect CO2 emissions from all other related activities (for example,  its entire supply chain, the materials in its buildings, the business travel of its employees, and the full life cycle of its products, and the electricity consumption by consumers due to their use of the company’s products) by more than half by 2030. To achieve the second target, regarding the “carbon tax” of $15/metric ton of emissions already introduced for all business divisions in the company, indirect emissions, such as manufacturing and business travel and the electricity used by customers with its products, will also be targeted from July 2020. The carbon tax paid by each business division will be used as a fund for improving sustainability.

Third, it will achieve carbon negative and remove CO2 emitted since its foundation by 2030. The goal of removing CO2 will be achieved through a portfolio of negative emission technologies (NET)*1 that capture and remove CO2.

As a conclusion of the announcement, the company comments “The world needs to go on the path of reducing CO2. We recognize that it’s what our customers and employees are asking us to pursue. This is a bold bet — a moonshot — for Microsoft.” However, it also says, “Even though it won’t be easy to become carbon negative by 2030, we believe it’s the right goal. And with the right commitment, it’s an achievable goal. We will need to continue to learn and adapt. Individual efforts are necessary, but it is even more important that the world is working together. We believe that we could announce today the initiative with proper plans and targets; however, we still have challenges to solve and technologies that need to be developed. It’s time to get to work.”

That’s true. Now is time for the world to work together for a sustainable society.

Negative Emissions Technologies (NET):A technology that captures and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), which has been emitted in the past and accumulated in the atmosphere and which also is considered to be the largest contributor to the greenhouse effect. Concretely, it includes bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), direct air capture (DAC), promoting ocean absorption, and changing agricultural practices.

Photo: Brian Smale

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