Microsoft to ax carbon emissions in new climate push

By Zack Colman

Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it would become "carbon negative" by 2030 as part of an ambitious strategy to erase the tech giant's greenhouse gas emissions.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company said it would increase its internal carbon price and extend it to suppliers to achieve the goal, which would mean it was removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than its business was emitting. And it set a long-term goal of negating all the emissions from its direct sources and power consumption since its 1975 founding by 2050.

The announcement comes as politicians, countries and companies have increasingly rallied around a 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that suggested the world must neutralize carbon emissions by mid-century to avoid locking in catastrophic effects of climate change. Earlier this week, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, said it would put climate change at the center of its investing strategy.

"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 Brad Smith wrote in a blog post. He noted the firm won't rely on carbon offsets and would instead transition to 100 percent renewable energy, including at its data centers, by 2025. And it would include in its pledge the indirect, or so-called scope 3 emissions, related to the production and use of its products.

Microsoft, with a valuation that topped $1 trillion last year, is by far the largest company to set a target that would wipe out its carbon dioxide emissions. The firm said it expects to emit 16 million metric tons of carbon this year, greater than the entire country of Slovenia.

Smith said Microsoft will "make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of our procurement processes," invest in new technology and boost climate policy advocacy.

The company will open a $1 billion program to spur development of carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has invested in direct air capture technology, a nascent concept that pulls heat-trapping gases from the air. Climate scientists argue such a kit might be necessary given current emissions trajectories.