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Microsoft has been on a sustainability journey for over a decade. Our commitments to be carbon-negative, water positive, zero waste, and to protect more land than we use have driven us to pursue the best science available and find innovative new ways of doing business.  

We don’t have this all figured out. But we are committed to fulfilling our pledges and consistently communicating what we’re learning along the way at events like Sustainable Brands 2022 (SB ‘22), VERGE 22, and the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27).

This is the decade of the how

Leading companies today talk about a “multi-bottom line” where sustainability commitments and societal impact are given equal priority with fiscal performance. I had the pleasure of speaking on this topic at SB ’22. It was truly inspiring to meet so many business leaders who believe in the “multi-bottom line” and work every day to put those beliefs into action.

Here at Microsoft, we know that we can find solutions that grow our business while also making progress on our sustainability goals. Like many of the companies at SB ’22, we’ve found that sustainable transformation has helped us:

  • Build brand trust. Consumers, companies, and governments want to work with organizations who “walk the talk” of their values.
  • Increase efficiencies. Whether it’s energy, water, natural materials, or minerals, organizations who focus on using resources efficiently are also saving money.
  • Improve margins and revenue. When you build a sustainable transformation on a digital foundation, whole new ways of doing business become possible.

One thing I said during my keynote is that “this is the decade of the how.” What did I mean by that?

Climate leaders know that these are the crucial years when we move from pledges to progress. We know what we need to achieve—a net-zero world. Now it’s time to take action and shift the conversation from where we need to go to how we’re going to get there.

Here’s how Microsoft is going to help accelerate progress:

  • We will continue to advance the sustainability of our business and report our progress in our annual Environmental Sustainability Report. As we transform our own work for a net-zero world, we will be transparent about our successes, challenges, and learnings so we can all move forward, faster.
  • Our sustainability journey is built on a digital foundation, which means we can take our own experiences and create solutions for our customers. We will continue to create and deploy solutions that enable operational efficiency and environmental impact. For example, we recently announced new capabilities and updates to Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.
  • We will support the societal infrastructure for a sustainable world—including our upcoming participation in COP27.
  • We are optimistic that the global sustainability skilling crisis can be solved with collaboration, data, and global effort. More than 3,500 companies globally have issued climate pledges—however, many don’t currently have a workforce with the necessary skills to turn these pledges to progress. This week, we released a report highlighting the urgent need to develop a new level of sustainability skills and fluency in the global workforce in the next five years—and how Microsoft aims to help support the transformation.

Building a long-term plan for buying carbon credits

Microsoft has been carbon-neutral since 2012 and has made a pledge to be carbon negative by 2030. We have achieved a lot in terms of using electricity generated from low-carbon sources and enhancing energy efficiency, but in today’s world, some emissions are inevitable. Like many organizations, we use carbon credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions that we can’t avoid. We strive to support best-in-class carbon removal projects that demonstrate net negativity, can be scientifically verified, and promote social equity.

As one of the first companies to source carbon removal, we’re committed to solutions that provide maximum positive impact, transparency, and collective market intelligence.  We have been engaging with carbon removal markets programmatically for years and have learned lots of lessons along the way. Rafael Broze, Carbon Removal Program Manager, spoke about these lessons on a carbon-focused panel at VERGE 22 last week.

Why become carbon negative? Because we can—so we have to—and because everybody does better in a one-and-a-half degree world.”—Rafael Broze, Carbon Removal Program Manager, speaking at VERGE 22.

Our extensive experience with carbon reduction and removals and participation in the carbon markets helped us see that there’s a need for a common infrastructure to lend credibility to carbon credits and other environmental assets. That’s why I’m so proud to tell the world about Environmental Credit Service.

By delivering a common infrastructure and shared data standard, Environmental Credit Service will help decrease time to market and increase the quality and quantity of credits. Stay tuned for more announcements about this groundbreaking solution.

Collaborating with global climate stakeholders

Microsoft has been at the table with global climate stakeholders for a long time and one element of our commitment to collaborate is our participation in COP27. Microsoft will be a Strategic Technology Partner and Principal Sponsor of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Egypt. The UN conference provides a platform for world leaders, businesses, and citizens to come together to discuss their role in climate action, with a focus on delivering on the Paris Agreement.

We believe that technology can help people, organizations, and policymakers solve today’s complex climate challenges. For some of the problems we face, technology can be transformative. Our participation this year will focus on how to measure progress, build markets, and empower people across the globe to deliver a just, sustainable future for everyone on the planet.

We will have a booth in the Green Zone and will be sponsoring workshops throughout the conference. For more information on COP27, and to keep hearing about what we’ve learned on our sustainability journey, please stay tuned to this blog and follow Microsoft on the Issues on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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What’s Next for Sustainability digital event

Microsoft Sustainability Manager

No matter where you are in your sustainability journey, Microsoft cloud–based technology solutions can help you move forward.