Jan 16, 2020

Microsoft vows to become "carbon negative" by 2030

Photo: Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Microsoft vowed Thursday to be "carbon negative" by 2030 and announced new plans to fund emerging technologies and methods that pull CO2 directly from the atmosphere.

Why it matters: Those plans and other climate efforts Microsoft rolled out are perhaps the strongest among Big Tech companies.

  • They arrive as the sector overall is increasingly under pressure from activists over its emissions and work with oil industry clients.

The big picture: Microsoft said its pledge to be carbon negative — that is, spur removal of more CO2 than it produces — would apply not only to its direct operations and energy supplies, but also the far larger carbon output from use of its products in the economy and other indirect emissions.

  • In addition, Microsoft said that by 2050 it will "remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975."

The company's new efforts include...

  • Expanding its internal carbon tax to apply to its supply and value chains, not just emissions from its direct operations.
  • Creating a $1 billion fund to "accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies."
  • New efforts to help suppliers and customers reduce their carbon footprints, and making carbon-cutting an "explicit" aspect of their procurement.

The state of play: A UN-led scientific report in 2018 concluded that pathways for holding temperature rise to 1.5°C require some level of carbon removal — not just steeply cutting and preventing emissions.

  • Carbon removal methods include "direct air capture" technologies, large-scale forest planting and restoration, bio-energy coupled with carbon capture and storage, and more.

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Microsoft, House GOP reflect split-screen America on climate change

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microsoft is pushing aggressive goals to tackle climate change while simultaneously supporting House Republicans' more modest efforts on the matter.

Driving the news: On Thursday, Microsoft announced its new pledge to become carbon negative in 10 years, while earlier in the week its president, Brad Smith, expressed support for House Republicans’ far narrower efforts on climate.

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020

Starbucks joins the carbon pledge trend

Starbucks storefront. Photo: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Starbucks hopes to cut carbon emissions from its operations and huge supply chain by 50% by 2030 as part of new environmental pledges unveiled Tuesday.

Why it matters: Starbucks is the latest multinational giant to set new targets as global emissions rise and multilateral efforts fail to even lay the groundwork for steep cuts.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020

As Congress talks climate policy, carbon price gets no love

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New lobbying urging Congress to support a price on carbon emissions is not convincing lawmakers to warm up to the policy.

Why it matters: A carbon price is widely considered one of the most economically efficient ways to tackle climate change. But, economics be damned, its politics remain deeply unpopular.