June 20, 2021

Can Microsoft’s ‘moonshot’ carbon goal succeed?

Tech giant Microsoft has announced two bold ambitions: firstly, to become carbon negative by the year 2030 – meaning it will be removing more carbon from the air than it emits – and secondly, to have removed more carbon by 2050 than it has emitted, in total, in its entire history.

In an interview with the BBC’s Chris Fox, Microsoft president Brad Smith admitted that the plan was a “moonshot” – a very big idea with no guaranteed outcome or profitability – for the company.

He stressed there was simultaneously a sense of urgency and a need to take the time to do the job properly.

He also said that the tools required don’t entirely exist yet.

Mr Smith talked about tree planting, and direct air capture – a way of removing carbon from the air and returning it to the soil – as examples of available options.

“Ultimately we need better technology,” he said.

But don’t expect Microsoft to roll up its sleeves: “That’s not a business we will ever be in but it’s a business we want to benefit from,” he added, announcing a $1bn Climate Innovation Fund, established with the intention of helping others develop in this space.

Microsoft makes ‘carbon negative’ pledge

He expects support from the wider tech sector, he said, “because it’s a sector that’s doing well, it can afford to make these investments and it should.”

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