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Microsoft says it will eliminate all of its past and future carbon emissions

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Microsoft has pledged to eliminate its carbon footprint and ultimately remove any carbon it has emitted since it was first founded in 1975.

The firm said it will be “carbon negative” by 2030 and will have entirely paid back its carbon debt by 2050.

It plans to cut both its direct emissions and for its entire supply chain and announced it will be using in-house technology to help suppliers and customers around the world reduce their own carbon footprints.

The focus on clearing carbon from the atmosphere sets Microsoft's climate goals apart from other tech firms such as Apple which have only pledged to cut ongoing emissions or prevent future ones.

In a blog post, Microsoft clarified its approach and admitted that it expects to emit 16 million metric tons of carbon this year. The majority of this (12 million tons) is defined as indirect emissions such as the materials in its buildings, the business travel of its employees, and the full lifecycle of its products, including the electricity customers may consume when using the product.

A one billion dollar climate innovation fund was also announced to help boost the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies.

The company’s president Brad Smith said: “While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so.

“That’s why today we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint.

“By 2030, Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.”

He added that his firm would widen the reach of a fee it has charged its business divisions to account for their carbon emissions.

Microsoft said it charges $15 (£12) per metric ton for core carbon emissions internally and will expand the coverage in phases to cover all emissions.

But its price is lower than that for carbon traded in California, where it was $17 per ton in the most recent auction, and the EU, where it was estimated to trade at €27 (£23), in the current quarter.

The firm also said it would publish an annual environmental sustainability report to detail its progress.

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