Microsoft Promises To Turn ‘Carbon Negative’ By 2050

A pledge to remove “all of the carbon” that it had emitted into the environment since it was founded in 1975 has been just made by Microsoft.

Making this announcement, Microsoft Chief executive SatyaNadella said that this target would be achieved by the company by 2050. To achieve that feat, Microsoft would strive to turn itself carbon neutral by 2030 and would eliminate more carbon from the environment than it produces and emits.

This target of the company is exceeds the one made by it cloud-computing rival Amazon, which aims to become “carbon neutral” by 2040.

“When it comes to carbon, neutrality is not enough,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith.”The carbon in our atmosphere has created a blanket of gas that traps heat and is changing the world’s climate,” he added in a blog.”If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic,” he further said

In order to develop carbon-tackling technologies, a $1bn climate innovation fund will be set up by Microsoft.

Offsetting carbon emissions has been the strategy of most companies so far in their efforts to become carbon neutral. Such efforts often entail companies sponsoring green projects in developing economies that can help in reducing carbon emissions in such countries. Some examples are setting to of hydroelectric power plants, promoting forsaking use of wood-based in homes, and providing support for business to generate and utilize solar power. The reductions in carbon emissions thus achieved are then subtracted from the main carbon output of the company.

The outcome these efforts however is to slow down carbon emissions instead of reversing the process.

On the other hand, a company becoming carbon negative entails the company actually removing carbon from the atmosphere that is emitted by the company.

The United States based software giant said that a range of carbon capture and storage technologies will be used to achieve this.

Environmentalists largely welcomed the move by Microsoft and said that the company was conscious about the larger climate change picture and not only about its contribution to the problem.

“It’s a hat trick of sustainability leadership,” said Elizabeth Sturcken from the Environmental Defence Fund.”But to really shift the needle on climate change, we need 1,000 other [companies] to follow-suit and turn rhetoric into action.”

But according to Greenpeace, Microsoft also needs to review the business relations that it has large carbon emitting companies such as in the oil and gas sector.

“While there is a lot to celebrate in Microsoft’s announcement, a gaping hole remains unaddressed: Microsoft’s expanding efforts to help fossil fuel companies drill more oil and gas with machine-learning and other AI technologies,” said senior campaigner Elizabeth Jardim.

However, compared to other tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon, the plan outlined by Microsoft was far more aggressive. None of the other majors tech companies have set themselves any target of becoming “carbon negative”.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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