This week, I attended the 22nd session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 22) in Marrakesh, Morocco, where I was proud to speak about Microsoft’s actions to work towards a more sustainable, low-carbon future at several events and with representatives from around the world. One of the common themes has been the role of the private sector in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon future.
At Microsoft, we are enthusiastic about the potential of technology to address some of humanity’s most pressing problems, including climate change. And we recognize that our responsibilities as a leading technology and cloud provider require that our business practices have a positive impact on the communities we serve.
One of the ways we do this at Microsoft is through our carbon program. We instituted our internal carbon fee in July 2012, which holds our business groups financially accountable for the carbon emissions associated with their operations. Today, I am pleased to share an update on our progress and our plans for the future in our latest white paper, “Expanding beyond our carbon neutral operations to accelerate global and local good.”
For the past few years, we have reported on the impact of our carbon fee investments. This year, we are evolving our program to ‘beyond carbon neutral’ to promote global and local good in the following areas:
- Renewable energy: We are using the funds to drive long-term commitments and develop new renewable energy procurement options.
- Community projects: We are investing in projects that align with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, and we are working to help organizations better leverage the potential of technology to achieve improved environmental, human health, and biodiversity outcomes.
- Climate Grants: We are evolving our Climate Grant program, which provides funds to catalyze and accelerate climate-related energy and technology innovation, to drive further impact in the communities in which we operate.
- Reporting: We are expanding our tracking and reporting to better measure our impact over time.
Since we implemented the carbon fee, we have reduced our emissions by more than 9 million mtCO2e, invested in more than 14 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of green power, and had an impact on more than 7 million people through carbon offset community project investments. The fee has helped establish a culture of sustainability in our company: sustainability is now an expectation of our leadership for how we operate and drive global impact. We hope that by sharing the lessons we’ve learned, our success stories, and our plans for our carbon program in the future, we will spark conversations and encourage others to act on this important issue.
Announcing the carbon white paper is just one of the ways Microsoft is participating in the global conversation on sustainability at COP 22.
As part of our ongoing commitment to carbon neutrality, Microsoft also helped launch the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Climate Neutral Now initiative at COP22, aimed at making it easier for people to measure, reduce and offset their emissions through an online cloud platform that is built on Microsoft Azure. We are pleased to announce that we have also pledged to the initiative and will continue to measure, reduce and offset our own emissions.
Additionally, Microsoft is proud to be a partner of the newly launched SMARTer2030 Action Coalition, which will work to support the achievement of the goals set by the Paris Agreement through implementation of information and communications technologies (ICT). We believe that ICT can enable sustainable growth and partner with our customers to create these solutions. One such example is a recently announced pilot project in Norway leverages intelligent technology to create a more efficient, flexible and intelligent grid of the future.
We also see the potential to apply technology to not only green the grid, but to help create off-grid solutions in places where there is no grid at all. On Monday, USAID announced the ‘Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development’ initiative, of which Microsoft is an aligned partner. The Challenge is designed to support innovators who are revolutionizing household solar power in Africa.
At Microsoft, our vision is to create a cloud that is trusted, a cloud that is responsible, and a cloud that is inclusive – a cloud for global good. Operating our business in a sustainable way is an important part of this vision. Through our carbon program, our partnerships and our technologies, we are working to drive sustainable change and make an even greater impact globally.
To download our carbon white paper, visit http://aka.ms/beyond.