Microsoft is joining some of the biggest names in technology and American industry to lower the environmental impact of their operations.
The Redmond, Wash., tech titan joined 12 other large companies to sign the White House's American Business Act on Climate Pledge yesterday. "As innovations continue to advance around resource efficiency and clean energy, information technology can play an important role in empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more," said Rob Bernard, general manager of Cities and Sustainability at Microsoft, in a July 27 blog post.
"Microsoft understands and embraces this opportunity to help people and organizations around the world solve environmental and energy challenges. We seek to advance sustainability through the products we offer customers and partners, and through our own actions and practices and partnerships," continued Bernard.
Participating companies are expected to voice their support for a strong outcome at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 21) climate change event in Paris later this year. They will also embrace sustainable practices and increase their clean investments.
"All told, today's announcements total at least $140 billion in new low-carbon investment and more than 1,600 megawatts of new renewable energy, in addition to ambitious, company-specific goals to cut emissions as much as 50 percent, reduce water intensity as much as 15 percent, purchase 100 percent renewable energy, and pursue zero net deforestation in supply chains," said the White House in a July 27 press statement.
Also joining Microsoft in signing the pledge were Apple and Google. Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is expected to increase its clean energy production by an estimated 280 megawatts by the end of 2016.
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, noted that the company is already hitting the ground running. "Google has been carbon-neutral since 2007. Our data centers, the physical infrastructure behind Web services used by billions of people, now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of electricity, as compared to five years ago," Schmidt blogged. Google is "also the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable power on the planet," he wrote.
Although late to the game, Microsoft plans to catch up fast. "Microsoft has a longstanding commitment to these issues and our pledge is consistent with our approach to sustainability—since July 1, 2012, we have been carbon-neutral, which includes our commitment to 100 percent green power," said Bernard.
As part of the pledge, Microsoft will purchase or produce clean energy for all of its operations, including its data centers. The company also will offset all of its emissions from business air travel and fuel consumption.
In addition to Microsoft, Apple and Google, fellow signatories include Alcoa, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, UPS and Walmart. "The companies making pledges as part of today's launch represent more than $1.3 trillion in revenue in 2014 and a combined market capitalization of at least $2.5 trillion," said the White House.