Microsoft Shares Perspective on Climate Change Policy

As I recently blogged, Microsoft has a delegation participating in the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as COP17. With those negotiations ongoing, we thought it was a good time to pull together the perspectives we’ve shared over the past several years on climate change policy.

Three years ago, we adopted a broad policy statement on climate change, which reflects clear support for government policy to address climate change. We sometimes get questions about the positions various business groups we belong to have taken on climate change, and we’ve publicly clarified how a few of those groups’ positions differ from our own, here and here. As referenced in this blog post, I have met multiple times with top Climate Officials to talk about ways the Information, Communications and Technology sector (ICT) can drive significant reductions in society-wide annual carbon emissions.

COP17 is the third year in a row we’ve had a presence at the United Nation’s Climate Summit negotiations, which were held in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010). We’ve communicated on our main public policy blog about the need for a binding climate treaty to achieve a 50 to 85 percent global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Last year, our CEO, Steve Ballmer, joined a half-dozen company executives in proposing the Guadalajara ICT Declaration for Transformative Low Carbon Solutions. The Declaration highlights opportunities for the ICT sector to provide solutions that can significantly reduce emissions in order to avoid further climate change and support adaptation.

Craig Mundie, our Chief Research and Strategy Officer, is a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which just issued the report Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy. The report argues that environmental and ecosystem degradation, “are challenges that cannot be met without a strong helping hand from government. The main reason is the set of perverse incentives for private decision-makers—firms and individuals—in relation to ecosystems and ecosystem services when government does not intervene. In the absence of such intervention, individuals and firms are able to capture the benefits of activities that produce climate change and other forms of ecosystem disruption but are able to avoid most of the attendant damages, which are spread across society.”

Microsoft is also a founding member of a coalition of IT companies, NGO’s and trade associations called the Digital Energy Solutions Campaign (DESC). DESC believes that governments can take many actions to encourage ICT-enabled energy efficiency, clean energy innovation and sustainable growth. We are currently working with both the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and DESC to establish a national strategy for the use of ICT to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand the availability of broadband to encourage innovations made possible through intelligent connected devices, and empower consumers to be more energy efficient by ensuring that consumers can access tools to better manage their electricity use.

At COP17 and into the future, we’ll continue to work to share our perspective on ways the power of Information Technology can help address the pressing energy and climate challenges the world faces.

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