Microsoft’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030, announced in a recent blog post by company President, Brad Smith, will see the company investing in a portfolio of negative emission technologies (NETs) potentially including afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCs), and direct air capture (DAC), as well as launching a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.
The company’s CO2 removal (CDR) portfolio will initially focus on nature-based solutions, but will be reviewed annually, assessing the scalability, affordability, commercial availability, and verifiability of NETs, with the goal of shifting to more technology-based solutions before 2050, as they become more viable.
But what was most remarkable about the announcement was the commitment to also take responsibility for the company’s historical emissions – “to address our unpaid climate debt” – by removing from the atmosphere the total direct and indirect (Scope 1 and 2) CO2 emissions since Microsoft’s inception in 1975.
This to-date unique commitment puts the often discussed “moral hazard” posed by NETs in a new light. Against the concern that the unproven promise of NETs may discourage the needed deep and rapid reductions in GHG emissions must also be weighed the promise that NETs will give those corporations and individuals most responsible for historical emissions the opportunity to take similar corrective action – to address their own unpaid climate debts.
When – as is to be hoped – others follow this example of moral leadership, and also commit private sector finance to accelerate NET innovation and project development, we can look forward to a rapid maturation of the more technology-based solutions, reducing and ultimately removing the “hazard” caused by their current unproven status.
The current edition of NET News can be downloaded here, and covers key developments in this growing sector since our inaugural issue. We look forward to keeping you up-to-date with developments across the NET field – from R&D to policy and governance – in future issues.
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