Microsoft ( (MSFT) – Get the Microsoft Corporation report) has positioned itself as a climate change leader by encouraging its customers to switch to storing its data in its cloud service, Microsoft Azure.
Moving to the cloud means businesses can reduce energy consumption by 65% and carbon emissions by more than 84%, according to research from Accenture.
In June, the software giant with Accenture ( (ACN) – Get Accenture plc (Ireland) Class A report) and their joint venture, Avanade, said they would work together to focus on finding climate change solutions to help companies emit less carbon by providing consulting services, such as inclusion of sustainability when designing new products and services.
Preparing for the world of 2050
Shifting from reliance on fossil fuels to using more renewable energy remains a priority for the company, Microsoft President Brad Smith said in an interview with GeekWire last week at his office in Redmond, Washington. .
“We live in this very interesting moment in time,” he said. “There’s almost this tension between a short-term need to, in some ways, adapt to higher energy prices, while still being focused on the need to change the nature of energy production and to switch from fossil fuels to renewables, etc.”
Microsoft has a “very large and robust climate program and mission,” Smith said, but didn’t provide any details.
“We have several roles that we seek to play,” he said. “Every day, when it comes to sustainability, we have to prepare for the world that will exist in 2050.”
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The company also said on June 29 that it would launch a research initiative to combat climate change called the Microsoft Climate Research Initiative (MCRI).
The new initiative will combine the technology company’s research and computing expertise while collaborating with universities.
Researchers from various disciplines such as chemistry, environmental sciences and several engineering disciplines will work together. The three main critical areas that can see results in science transformations include reducing uncertainties in carbon accounting, overcoming constraints to decarbonization, and more detailed assessment of climate risks.
ESG pressure from shareholders
Shareholders have increasingly pressured companies to adopt more climate change strategies to reduce the amount of emissions.
The shift towards greater sustainability is reflected in stock prices – companies that can show high ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance translate to 2.6x higher shareholder returns, according to Accenture research.
Microsoft said 72% of its new electricity generation in 2019 came from renewable sources and has set a goal for half of its electricity generation after 2035 to come from renewables generated by wind, solar and hydroelectricity.
In November 2020, the company announced that it would commit to moving to 100% renewable energy in its buildings and data centers by 2025. Last year, the company began tracking its usage all hours, said Noelle Walsh, vice president of cloud operations and innovation.