Microsoft Plans to be Carbon Negative by 2030

Posted on January 16, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft with 19 Comments

Microsoft plans to be carbon negative by the end of this decade, but it has even bigger sustainability plans for the future.

“Today we are making the commitment that by 2030, Microsoft will be carbon-negative,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed in a series of tweets. “Not just across our direct emissions, but across our supply chain too. We must take responsibility to address the carbon footprint of our own technology and company.”

Another tweet in the series further notes that Microsoft plans to remove from the environment all of the carbon that it has emitted directly or by electrical consumption since its founding in 1975. “We need to cut the cord on carbon,” Microsoft senior vice president Brad Smith added.

For those more familiar with the term carbon-neutral, Microsoft explains that that term means offsetting emissions, while carbon-negative means having a net positive impact on emissions. That is, it will remove more carbons than it emits.

In a related blog post, Microsoft further explains the impetus behind this change.

“The scientific consensus is clear,” the firm notes. “The world confronts an urgent carbon problem. The carbon in our atmosphere has created a blanket of gas that traps heat and is changing the world’s climate. Already, the planet’s temperature has risen by 1-degree centigrade. If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic.”

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Comments (19)

19 responses to “Microsoft Plans to be Carbon Negative by 2030”

  1. Sihaz

    Hard to see any downside to this. I wish them luck.

  2. mikes_infl

    There's a lot of people in the world that have good intentions. Many fewer have foresight and fewer still have real understanding.

    No matter how much any company/corporation, large or small, will try to erase their "carbon footprint" it can't be done. Just by existing they have influence on the rest of the environment. The more the try, the more energy is consumed.

    It's a lot like the "observer effect". If people can understand that simple idea, why does it seem so difficult to understand the elemental influence of simple existence?

  3. jimchamplin

    This is unquestionably good!

  4. nbplopes

    Carbon Negative, Mobile First, Cloud First, Intelligent Edge ...

    I like Nadella, but his speech is so full of punch lines that gives me a headache just trying to decode what he means.

    The goal is to reduce carbon emissions or remove carbon? How can carbon be removed?

    Why can’t he just talk direct and simple instead of clouding what is suppose to be “just” the goal of reducing carbon emissions in their chain.


  5. codymesh

    "Microsoft will remove more carbon than it emits, setting us on a path to remove by 2050 all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. We will achieve this through a portfolio of negative emission technologies (NET) potentially including afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCs), and direct air capture (DAC)"

    Incredible. Microsoft is going in on carbon capture.

  6. lvthunder

    Are they actually doing something or are they just buying carbon credits from those who plant trees or whatever those carbon credit people do?

    • christian.hvid

      In reply to lvthunder:

      Given that trees literally suck CO2 out of the air, planting trees is to actually do something. In fact, reforestation is by far our best hope for survival. Granted, it will take approximately 1.5 trillion trees to offset the emissions of the last century, but I bet Microsoft can afford a significant portion of those.

      • lvthunder

        In reply to christian.hvid:

        Yeah, but how do you know those companies are actually doing what they say they are doing? My point is Microsoft directly doing these things or are they paying a third party company to do them it for them.

  7. terry jones

    So no more private jets for Bill & the boys?

  8. Mark from CO

    Perhaps I will be the outlier on this... Companies like Microsoft should be pursuing conservation not because Big Science declares that there is a eminent emergency, but because it is the right thing to do. Doing the right thing will most likely lead to real tangible conservation results.

    The science about warming may be clear. What is not clear is the underlying cause. This heating cycle began before the industrial revolution, and heating (and cooling) cycles are a part of the earth's climate pattern.

    (Before the 'Denier' label is thrown at me, I'm on my third hybrid, my house is solar powered, and our family has always been willing to invest in energy conservation tools as we've moved from house to house. Do what is right.)

    • mattbg

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      Agree - whether or not there's an issue around carbon, there's mostly definitely an issue of polluting and trashing/ravaging the planet and that only gets solved with conservation and less consumption.

      Technology companies use a lot of energy, but most of it is electricity that could potentially come from clean sources, and technology is replacing a lot of dirtier products that would not have been as easily electrified (i.e. driving to the video store, driving to the bank, paper statements, mail, getting your photos processed, reading materials, etc.).

      Public libraries sound like antagonists in my story :)

      So, with Microsoft powering a lot of this activity, it's very meaningful for this energy to come from cleanish sources.

  9. prjman

    Virtue signal - Engaged!

    • VMax

      In reply to prjman:

      Is that bad? Does it mean the underlying action is bad, or invalid? How would you differentiate between virtue signalling and simply doing something good without keeping it a secret?

  10. RobertJasiek

    Microsoft has become an ambivalent company. I praise it for its carbon policy and hate it for its telemetry.

  11. nicholas_kathrein

    I am very happy to see this. Leaders in the technology space need to lead by example. They have the money to do it and they should.

  12. hecticpolecat

    Just brilliant - a truly good news story showing the way forward for other businesses