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Microsoft Increases Carbon Fee, Doubles Down on AI for Sustainability

Informed by new research from PwC UK that shows AI can boost global GDP by up to 4.4% and reduce emissions by 4% by 2030, Microsoft commits to a tech-first approach to drive progress across operations, products, customers and data science.

This week, Microsoft President Brad Smith shared the company's vision of a doubling down on sustainability, with a roadmap that will put sustainability at the core of every part of the business and technology to work for sustainable outcomes.

"The magnitude and speed of the world's environmental changes have made it increasingly clear that we must do more, and today Microsoft is taking steps to do just that," Smith said. "We're taking action to put our own house in order, while increasingly addressing sustainability challenges around the globe by engaging our strongest assets as a company — our employees and our technologies."

Leading this commitment is a substantial increase of the company's internal carbon fee to $15 per metric ton on all carbon emissions. The internal Microsoft tax was established seven years ago to hold all business divisions financially responsible for reducing carbon emissions. The funds from this increased fee will maintain Microsoft's carbon neutrality, as well as help the tech giant take a tech-first approach that will put sustainability at the core of every part of its business.

Other key commitments include:

  • Building sustainable campuses and datacenters, including a "zero-carbon" campus in Puget Sound and innovating to reduce carbon at campuses around the world.

  • Accelerating research through data science in its AI for Earth program with new datasets and open source APIs for environmental applications.

  • Partnering with existing and new customers to drive sustainable transformations with a low-carbon cloud, devices and solutions.

  • Advocating for environmental policy changes, including joining the Carbon Leadership Council in support of a framework for a national price on carbon.

In addition, Microsoft announced, with PricewaterhouseCoopers UK (PwC UK), new research that shows the potential of AI to enable economic growth while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Looking at four key sectors — agriculture, energy, water and transport — the report finds that AI-enabled advances could yield as much as a 4.4 percent increase in global GDP and a 4 percent decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions while creating as many as 38 million new jobs globally.  

The announcement builds on more than a decade of work on this issue, including reducing carbon emissions and purchasing more than 1.5 GW of renewable energy, as well as partnering with customers to drive sustainable transformation and a $50 million commitment to AI for Earth.