It will start by renewably sourcing all its electricity by 2025. It will also charge contracted companies for the carbon emissions they generate throughout the entire supply chain. But perhaps most interestingly, the company is promising to remove all the carbon dioxide it's ever released into the atmosphere by 2050. The problem is, the nascent technology needed to achieve this goal is pricey.
"The technology that we will need to solve this problem does not exist today, at least not in the way that would make it affordable and effective the way the world would require," said Microsoft president Brad Smith at an event for the media, according to The Information. The Redmond-based company has, therefore, committed to spending $1 billion over the next four years to fund the entire effort.
In its announcement, Microsoft estimated it will be the source of 16 million metric tons of carbon in 2020. Pulling carbon dioxide from the air can cost up to $600 per ton. That means Microsoft would need to pay $9.6 billion just to remove this year’s emissions. If it wanted to remove all the emissions it's released since its founding in 1975, it'd be staring down a multi-trillion-dollar bill.
Climate change activists, of course, would say maybe Microsoft should pay that massive bill - and do it right this second. After all, it caused the emissions in the first place. Perhaps in an attempt to move forward in a way that's fiscally feasible, Microsoft is beginning to take steps now. Its infusion of cash could spur interest in the technology, attract other companies to it, and ultimately, bring down costs.
Keep in mind, in September, Microsoft’s cloud-computing arm, Azure, inked a deal with oil giants Chevron and Schlumberger to “accelerate development of cloud-native solutions and deliver actionable data insights for the industry”.
As part of its new emissions goals, Microsoft said it’s now launching a sustainability calculator so Azure customers can track their carbon footprint.