Microsoft Hikes Internal Carbon 'Tax' to Meet Sustainability Goals

April 16, 2019
1mo ago

By Spencer Feingold

Microsoft is accelerating its sustainability initiatives in an effort to meet its goal of reducing operational carbon emissions by 75 percent in the next decade, the company announced this week.

The tech giant said it was doubling its internal carbon fee to $15 per metric ton. The “tax” is applied to every business division within Microsoft, giving each department a financial incentive to decrease carbon emissions.

This is “the most significant commitment to environmental sustainability in the history of the company,” Lucas Joppa, Microsoft's chief environmental officer, told Cheddar in an interview Tuesday.

In 2017, Microsoft ($MSFT) announced its 75 percent reduction goal, which it said would be met by 2030 and will help avoid more than 10 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

“We have this growing sense of frustration that where we are today is nowhere near we need to be if we are going to move the world to a more sustainable, low carbon future,” Joppa said.

Along with the carbon fee increase, the company announced Monday it was building 17 new buildings at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington that will run entirely on carbon-free electricity and set a goal of powering its data centers with 70 percent renewable energy by 2023.

Microsoft also said it will host government climate data sets on its Azure cloud computing system to help researchers and climate change activists.

“The magnitude and speed of the world’s environmental changes have made it increasingly clear that we must do more,” Brad Smith, the company’s president, said in a statement on Monday announcing the renewed efforts.

Microsoft joins Apple and several other tech companies that have increased their efforts to fight climate change in recent years, citing a moral responsibility and pressure from consumers.

In 2018, Apple ($AAPL) reached a major milestone when it announced that all of its facilities were powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources.

“The science says that time is short and resources are thin,” Joppa told Cheddar. “There is not really a viable approach to continue on a ‘business as usual’ path.”

Microsoft also announced that is joining the Climate Leadership Council, an international policy institute that promotes sustainable and carbon-free business practices.

"There’s an incredible opportunity to be realized by acting, supported by data and technology, on climate change,” Smith added in the company’s statement.