Taking the next step in its carbon neutral journey, Microsoft has pledged to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 75 percent by 2030 against a 2013 baseline. In a blog a post written by Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, the move will translate to savings of 10 million metric tons of carbon over the next decade. The commitment puts Microsoft on a path to meet the below 2 degrees Celsius goal set in the Paris Agreement.
“As a global company, the changes we make in how we operate our business and the goals we operate our business and the goals we set have a worldwide impact. It’s our hope that this pledge inspires others to join us in setting targets and provides confidence to governments, companies and individuals that it’s possible for entities to help reach the goals set in the Paris climate agreement. By raising our ambitions and taking these actions, our goal is to help make the future more sustainable and beneficial to everyone,” Smith wrote.
The announcement comes in the midst of the COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany. Despite the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Microsoft is one of the 900 companies to have signed onto Michael Bloomberg’s We Are Still In declaration, committing to delivering on the nation’s original pledge.
The company set its first carbon emissions target in 2009, in which it aimed to reduce emissions per unit of revenue by at least 30 percent compared with 2007 levels by 2012. Three years later in 2012, Microsoft became one of the first companies to put an internal global carbon fee in place. This allowed the tech giant to achieve carbon neutrality in 2013 across all of its direct operations, including data centers, software development labs, air travel and office buildings.
Microsoft’s cloud-based programs have played an instrumental role in helping the company reduce its global energy use by 20 percent, as well as slash its operating costs. The company is currently in the process of beefing up its renewable electricity portfolio and plans to reach a 60 percent renewables target by 2030. According to Smith, Artificial Intelligence also has a role to play in the transition to a low-carbon future.
“Artificial Intelligence and the cloud are enabling companies and governments to make smarter, real-time decisions that lower emissions and reduce resource consumption in areas from buildings to transportation to manufacturing to agriculture to the production and distribution of electricity. We’re working not only to enable these transformations, but also to create and democratize new innovations through programs like AI for Earth that can help our customers adapt and thrive in a changing environment,” Smith added.