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Microsoft announces new carbon 'moonshot' strategy, $1B innovation fund

Microsoft Corp. said Jan. 16 that it will become carbon negative by 2030. By 2050, it will remove from the environment all the carbon it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975, and it also will create a $1 billion fund to advance technologies that reduce carbon emissions.

The carbon goals include not only Microsoft's direct carbon impact, but the indirect carbon impact of its operations and products. It will support these initiatives, including the Climate Innovation Fund, by increasing its internal carbon fees. It will charge not only for direct emissions but for emissions across its supply chain. The company will publish its progress on each of these initiatives in its annual Environmental Sustainability Report.

The company will also be more proactive in influencing global public policy regarding climate change. It will lobby to help advance research efforts in the field, remove regulatory roadblocks, support a market for carbon pricing and to educate consumers on the issue.

"If we don't curb emissions ... science tells us the results will be devastating. Each of us is going to need to take action, and that includes businesses," CEO Satya Nadella said on a Jan. 16 webcast.

Microsoft will attempt to reduce its carbon impact across three scopes. Scope 1 emissions are due directly to company operations, such as the emissions from its trucks' tailpipes. Scope 2 emissions include those indirect sources from energy the company uses to operate, such as those of an electrical power plant that are the result of powering the lights in a Microsoft factory. Scope 3 includes indirect emissions from all other activities associated with the company's operations and products, those across the entire supply chain and those that are emitted by the use of the company's products.

"What we're talking about today is a new moonshot," Microsoft President Brad Smith said on the webcast. "We will need to do things with technology that the world hasn't yet invented."