1.16.2020 5:57 PM

Climate change

Microsoft pledges to be carbon negative by 2030 and re-capture all of its past emissions

The company also says it will use 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Microsoft has announced an aggressive plan to rectify its role in the climate crisis. In a blog post published on Thursday, the company pledged to “reduce and ultimately remove” its carbon footprint. To do that, Microsoft says its operations will be carbon negative by 2030 — and, it will spend the subsequent two decades sequestering the equivalent of its entire history of carbon dioxide emissions, going back to 1975.

Beyond carbon neutral — Microsoft has already been carbon neutral for several years now, largely by investing in efficient energy practices. It isn't the only company to take these steps; Apple has boasted for some time now about being run on 100 percent renewable energy across the globe and Google says it's been carbon neutral for over a decade. But Microsoft's latest initiative takes all that a leap further.

Moving forward, the company says it will be carbon negative, meaning that in addition to prioritizing energy efficiency in its own operations, it will actively work to reduce more atmospheric carbon than it emits. Microsoft is hoping to hit this mark by 2030. This, Microsoft says, will put the company "on a path to remove by 2050 all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975."

"We will achieve this through a portfolio of negative emission technologies (NET) potentially including afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCs), and direct air capture (DAC)," Microsoft says.

Time to ante up — Any way you look at it, tech companies are responsible for a lot of emissions. Some are worse than others, sure, but they can all do more to address their individual contributions to the problem. It's something the companies' own employees have been very outspoken about, especially in recent months. So if Microsoft wants to step up its efforts, good on them, whatever the motive.

"Reducing carbon is where the world needs to go, and we recognize that it’s what our customers and employees are asking us to pursue," Microsoft said. "This is a bold bet — a moonshot — for Microsoft. And it will need to become a moonshot for the world. It won’t be easy for Microsoft to become carbon negative by 2030. But we believe it’s the right goal. And with the right commitment, it’s an achievable goal."