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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microsoft this morning disclosed investments in more climate-related companies as part of efforts to make good on its year-old pledge to become "carbon negative" by 2030.

Driving the news: One company the tech behemoth is staking is Climeworks, a firm looking to scale up deployment of direct air capture technology that removes CO2 already in the atmosphere.

  • The size of the investment was not disclosed. Microsoft also revealed that it's a customer of the Swiss firm.
  • "Through Microsoft’s purchase of negative emissions from Climeworks, we will permanently remove 1,400 metric tons of carbon," Lucas Joppa, Microsoft's top environmental official, said in a blog post.

Why it matters: It's part of a growing move by deep-pocketed companies and investors to back the fledgling direct air capture sector — and pay them for carbon removal.

The volumes currently being removed are a tiny drop in the bucket, but DAC could be among the technologies that eventually join the list of meaningful tools against warming.

  • Another firm, Carbon Engineering, counts backers including Bill Gates, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum.
  • Climeworks' other investors and customers include e-commerce heavyweight Shopify.

The big picture: The Climeworks investment is among several updates this morning from Microsoft on its climate efforts, including two other new outlays from its $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund.

  • It is backing the early-stage, climate-focused VC fund Congruent Ventures, as well as the foundation-backed Southeast Asia Clean Energy Facility, which Joppa notes "aims to drive market adoption of existing technologies in underfunded markets."

By the numbers: Microsoft also tallied some of what's happened since its pledge last January.

  • President Brad Smith said in a separate post that Microsoft cut its overall emissions by 6%, or roughly 730,000 metric tons.
  • "We have purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon from 26 projects around the world," he said.
  • Bloomberg looks more at those efforts and some of their hurdles here.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Credit: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.