The Record - Issue 20: Spring 2021

40 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om COV E R S TOR Y sustainability Achieving I n a ‘State of the Planet’ address at Columbia University in December 2020, United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres urged every country, city and company to adopt plans for a transition to net zero emissions by 2050. At the start of the same year, Microsoft made a ‘moonshot’ pledge to become carbon negative by 2030. It also promised that by 2050 it will remove from the environment all the carbon that the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. “While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith, at the time of the announcement. “That’s why we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint.” There has been immediate progress, with a 6 per cent reduction in annual carbon emissions to 10.9 tonnes in the year to January 2021. Microsoft has been exploring the purchase of renewable energy for all of its data centres by 2025 and will eliminate its use of diesel fuel by 2030. It has also created a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund, of which $50 million will be invested in the Energy Impact Partners’ global platform, which works with energy providers to transition towards cleaner fuels. Microsoft has also collaborated with partners to affect environmental change outside of its own organisation. It formed the Transform to Net Zero coalition with founding members A.P. Moeller – Maersk, Danone, Mercedes-Benz, Natura & Co., Nike, Starbucks, Unilever and Wipro to help businesses reach their sustainabil- ity goals. “We cannot achieve our sustainability ambi- tions alone – this update reflects an extraor- dinary amount of hard work and dedication across Microsoft and with customers, partners, non-governmental organisations and oth- ers around the world,” said Lucas Joppa, chief environmental officer at Microsoft, during an announcement at Inspire 2020. “Working together, we can build a more sustainable future.” Michelle Lancaster, director of sustainability partnerships, sales and products at Microsoft, has witnessed the acceleration in the company’s sustainability journey and is proud to help cus- tomers follow suit. “We have been working with very large com- mercial customers in this space that are looking BY E L LY YAT E S - ROB E R T S Microsoft is making good initial progress against its ‘moonshot’ goals for sustainability, and is also helping partners and customers follow suit together