As the concern surrounding climate change heats up once more, Microsoft has doubled down on its sustainability goals. In a public blog post, president Brad Smith laid out new commitments, including an increased carbon fee.
Microsoft's internal carbon tax will be increased to $15 per metric to increase the financial incentive of sustainability. The fund is designed to increase the company's carbon neutrality while ensuring long-term commitments to change.
“The magnitude and speed of the world's environmental changes have made it increasingly clear that we must do more, and today Microsoft is taking steps to do just that,” said Smith.
“We're taking action to put our own house in order, while increasingly addressing sustainability challenges around the globe by engaging our strongest assets as a company — our employees and our technologies.”
Another of those steps includes increasing the rate at which Microsoft reduces data center emissions. Smith says it will soon reach its goal of 60% renewable energy by 2020, and is now looking at 70% by 2023.
On top of that, Smith reveals that the Microsoft campus will soon run on 100 percent carbon-free electricity while reducing the carbon cost of building materials by 15 percent. The short-term goal is to make Redmond the first large corporate campus to reach zero emissions.
Leveraging Research and Influence
For those seriously concerned about climate change, the company's progress may still feel painfully slow. Microsoft's current goals for renewable data centers put it at a 10% increase every four years. At that rate, it won't reach 100% until around 2035.
However, it's worth considering that the company's significant influence as a tech leader will bring further gains. Smith says it will be sharing plans to increase sustainability when customers deploy its products.
Microsoft will also be using its expertise in tech and AI to gather new data and solutions. It will continue its AI for Earth program while hosting the “leading environmental data science sets” on Azure.
“Data can help tell us about the health of our planet, including the conditions of our air, water, land and the well-being of our wildlife,” explained Smith. “But we need technology's help to capture this vast amount of data and convert it into actionable intelligence. Despite living in the Information Age, when it comes to environmental data we are still too often flying without real insights.”