Technology giant Microsoft has announced a bold new plan to do its part to save the planet amid growing concerns about climate change. There are two key takeaways from this announcement, the first of which is that Microsoft is planning to become “carbon negative” by 2030. By 2050, the Xbox-maker also aims to remove all the carbon it has created as a company since its foundation in 1975.
Microsoft’s “aggressive program” plans to cut carbon emissions from its direct sources and from the chain of companies it works with to create its various products. Microsoft said it will create a $1 billion “climate innovation fund” to help with these efforts, and progress on all fronts will be detailed in a yearly Environmental Sustainability Report.
“We must begin to offset the damaging effects of climate change, and that’s what we are here to talk about today,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “The scientific consensus is clear. The world, today, is confronted with an urgent carbon crisis. If we don’t curb emissions and the temperatures continue to climb, the science tells us the results will be devastating.
“Each of us is going to need to take action, and that includes businesses. No one company can solve this macro challenge alone, but as a global technology company, we have a particular responsibility to do our part. That’s why today we’re announcing an ambitious new plan to help address the sustainability of our planet.”
Carbon negative, by Microsoft’s definition, means that a company is removing more carbon than it creates each year. “While it is imperative that we continue to avoid emissions, and these investments remain important, we see an acute need to begin removing carbon from the atmosphere, which we believe we can help catalyze through our investments,” Microsoft said.
Microsoft said it plans to make use of the “best available science and most accurate math” to make its decisions about sustainability. The company said it also plans to enact various measures to help both its suppliers and customers become more informed about best practices as it relates to reducing their carbon footprint. Additionally, Microsoft will use its platform as one of the world’s biggest companies to work with politicians and other agencies to “accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.”
Lastly, Microsoft said it will create new opportunities for its employees to help with the company’s overall ambition to reduce its carbon footprint. Microsoft is among the largest employers on planet Earth, as it has nearly 150,000 employees worldwide.
Microsoft is producing 825,000 carbon-neutral Xbox game consoles as part of a pilot program that represents the first gaming consoles in history to bear that designation. “We love Xboxes, but we all know that an Xbox works only when it’s plugged in, and it’s using electricity,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a statement.
As for Sony, the company has said the PlayStation 5 will be more environmentally friendly.
You can visit Microsoft’s website to see a detailed breakdown of how the company will go about reducing its carbon footprint.
In 2019, the United Nations announced an initiative called “Playing for the Planet,” which saw gaming giants like Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and Niantic announce plans to work together to come up with best practices for reducing the environmental impact of the video game industry. Nintendo is missing from the alliance but the company already operate an Environment Committee at the company’s headquarters in Japan, while each of its overseas subsidiaries have their own committees that look into environmental impact in their regions.
In total, the efforts undertaken by the 21 game companies is estimated to result in a “30 million ton reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030.” Additionally, “millions” of trees will be planted, while game companies will enact practices to do better in the areas of “energy management, packaging, and device recycling.”
A researcher in Australia is trying to further analyze the impact on the environmental impact of the gaming industry and also learn what game developers think about climate change and sustainability.