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Our 2024 Environmental Sustainability Report

At present, Microsoft revealed the 2024 Environmental Sustainability Report. This report covers fiscal yr 2023, and measures progress towards our 2020 baseline. You’ll be able to learn the foreword beneath and discover the report in its entirety right here.

Accelerating innovation and partnership for individuals and the planet

4 years in the past, Microsoft dedicated that, by 2030, we’d turn out to be carbon destructive, water constructive, zero waste, and shield extra land than we use. Since that announcement, we’ve seen main adjustments each within the expertise sector and in our understanding of what it’s going to take to fulfill our local weather targets. New applied sciences, together with generative AI, maintain promise for brand spanking new improvements that may assist tackle the local weather disaster. On the identical time, the infrastructure and electrical energy wanted for these applied sciences create new challenges for assembly sustainability commitments throughout the tech sector. As we take inventory as an organization in 2024, we stay resolute in our dedication to fulfill our local weather targets and to empower others with the expertise wanted to construct a extra sustainable future.

On the finish of final yr, the world met in Dubai at COP28 to evaluate international sustainability progress. The outcomes had been sobering. The world will not be on monitor to fulfill vital local weather targets, and we see most of the world’s challenges mirrored in our personal scenario. Throughout the previous 4 years, we’ve overcome a number of bottlenecks and have accelerated progress in significant methods. As we report right here, we’re on monitor in a number of areas. However not in each space. We due to this fact are mobilizing to speed up progress in areas the place we’re not but on monitor.

In 4 areas we’re on monitor, and in every of those we see progress that has the potential to have international impression past our personal sustainability work. These are:

  • Decreasing our direct operational emissions (Scope 1 and a couple of)
  • Accelerating carbon removing
  • Designing for circularity to attenuate waste and reusing cloud {hardware}
  • Enhancing biodiversity and defending extra land than we use

On the identical time, there are two areas the place we’re not but on monitor, and in every of those we’re intensively engaged in work to establish and pursue further breakthroughs. These are:

  • Decreasing our Scope 3, or oblique, emissions
  • Decreasing water use and replenishing extra water than we eat in our datacenter operations

Even amid the challenges, we stay optimistic. We’re inspired by ongoing progress throughout our campuses and datacenters, and all through our worth chain. Much more, we’re impressed by the scores of executives and staff throughout Microsoft who’re rolling up their sleeves and figuring out new and progressive steps which might be serving to us to shut vital gaps. All of us acknowledge the identical factor: There isn’t a challenge right now that connects everybody on the planet greater than the problems round local weather change. All of us must succeed collectively.

Carbon destructive

Our carbon destructive dedication contains three main areas: lowering carbon emissions; growing use of carbon-free electrical energy; and carbon removing. We made significant progress on carbon-free electrical energy and carbon removing in FY23. Microsoft has taken a first-mover strategy to supporting carbon-free electrical energy infrastructure, making long-term investments to deliver extra carbon-free electrical energy onto the grids the place we function.

In 2023, we elevated our contracted portfolio of renewable vitality belongings to greater than 19.8 gigawatts (GW), together with tasks in 21 international locations. In FY23, we additionally contracted 5,015,019 metric tons of carbon removing to be retired over the subsequent 15 years. We’re persevering with to construct a portfolio of tasks, balanced throughout low, medium, and excessive sturdiness options.

Carbon discount continues to be an space of focus, particularly as we work to deal with Scope 3 emissions. In 2023, we noticed our Scope 1 and a couple of emissions lower by 6.3% from our 2020 baseline. This space stays on monitor to fulfill our targets. However our oblique emissions (Scope 3) elevated by 30.9%. In combination, throughout all Scopes 1–3, Microsoft’s emissions are up 29.1% from the 2020 baseline.

The rise in our Scope 3 emissions primarily comes from the development of extra datacenters and the related embodied carbon in constructing supplies, in addition to {hardware} parts equivalent to semiconductors, servers, and racks. Our challenges are partially distinctive to our place as a number one cloud provider that’s increasing its datacenters. However, much more, we replicate the challenges the world should overcome to develop and use greener concrete, metal, fuels, and chips. These are the most important drivers of our Scope 3 challenges.

We’ve got launched a company-wide initiative to establish and develop the added measures we’ll want to cut back our Scope 3 emissions.

Leaders in each space of the corporate have stepped as much as sponsor and drive this work. This led to the event of greater than 80 discrete and vital measures that can assist us cut back these emissions – together with a brand new requirement for choose scale, high-volume suppliers to make use of 100% carbon-free electrical energy for Microsoft delivered items and providers by 2030. As an entire, this work builds on our multi-prong technique, this yr specializing in the next:

  1. Enhancing measurement by harnessing the facility of digital expertise to garner higher perception and motion
  2. Growing effectivity by making use of datacenter improvements that enhance effectivity as shortly as attainable
  3. Forging partnerships to speed up expertise breakthroughs via our investments and AI capabilities, together with for greener metal, concrete, and fuels
  4. Constructing markets through the use of our buying energy to speed up market demand for a majority of these breakthroughs
  5. Advocating for public coverage adjustments that can speed up local weather advances

Water constructive

We take a holistic strategy to turning into water constructive, which incorporates water entry, replenishment, innovation, discount, and coverage. In 2023, we achieved our water entry goal by offering greater than 1.5 million individuals with entry to scrub water and sanitation options. We contracted water replenishment tasks estimated to offer greater than 25 million m3 in volumetric water profit over the lifetime of those tasks – sufficient water to fill about 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming swimming pools. Lastly, we proceed to drive innovation in water, via first-of-their variety replenishment tasks like FIDO, which leverages AI-enabled acoustic evaluation to cut back water loss from leakage.

Wanting forward, as our datacenter enterprise continues to develop, so does the necessity to decrease our water consumption and replenish greater than we eat in these operations. In FY23, our progress on water accelerated, and we all know we have to implement a good stronger plan to speed up it additional. We due to this fact are investing in our water constructive dedication in 4 methods:

  1. We’re taking motion to cut back the depth with which we withdraw sources by persevering with to design and innovate with a view to decrease water use and obtain our depth goal
  2. Our new datacenters are designed and optimized to assist AI workloads and can eat zero water for cooling. This initiative goals to additional cut back our international reliance on freshwater sources as AI compute calls for enhance
  3. We’re partnering to advance water coverage. In 2023, we joined the Coalition for Water Recycling. Over the approaching yr we are going to finalize a place and technique for water coverage
  4. We’re creating progressive scalable replenishment tasks in excessive water stress places the place we function datacenters. We lately introduced Water United, a brand new initiative to unite private and non-private sectors in lowering water loss from leakage throughout the Colorado River Basin

Zero waste

Our journey to zero waste contains lowering waste at our campuses and datacenters, advancing round cloud {hardware} and packaging, and enhancing gadget and packaging circularity. In FY23, we achieved a reuse and recycle charge of 89.4% for servers and parts throughout all cloud {hardware}, a goal that’s more and more vital as wants for cloud providers proceed to develop. In 2023, we additionally diverted greater than 18,537 metric tons of waste from landfills or incinerators throughout our owned datacenters and campuses, and we decreased single-use plastics in our Microsoft product packaging to 2.7%.

From increasing our Round Facilities to piloting applications that give a second life to used fiber optic cables via partnerships with native technical colleges, we’re working to maintain supplies in use longer and strategy our work at each stage with circularity in thoughts. We’re accelerating our work to reuse and recycle cloud {hardware} wherever attainable, and launched two new Round Facilities in Quincy, Washington, and Chicago, Illinois in 2023.

Defending ecosystems

We’ve got dedicated to defending extra land than we use by 2025, whereas preserving and restoring ecosystems within the areas the place we reside and work. As of FY23, we exceeded our land safety goal by greater than 40%. At this level, 15,849 acres of land have been legally designated as completely protected in comparison with our aim of 11,000 acres.

We’re incorporating inexperienced enterprise practices that assist the encircling ecosystems close to our campuses and datacenters. This contains regenerative design options round our datacenters that improve native biodiversity, improved stormwater administration, and contributing to local weather resilience. We’re additionally piloting AI-driven Microsoft expertise to offer insights into the general well being of the ecosystem and inform future actions.

Buyer and international sustainability

In final yr’s Environmental Sustainability Report, we introduced that we had been increasing our ambition to assist advance sustainability for our prospects and the world. In 2023, we continued this work to empower our prospects and companions on their very own sustainability journey by creating the expertise wanted to raised handle sources and optimize techniques. On a world scale, we centered on accelerating innovation, analysis, and coverage, not just for ourselves but in addition to assist a extra sustainable world for all.

The shift from pledges to progress requires motion, transparency, and accountability. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability helps prospects unify knowledge and garner richer insights into the sustainability of their enterprise. In 2023, we expanded Microsoft Sustainability Supervisor to incorporate Scopes 1, 2, and all 15 classes of Scope 3 carbon emissions to assist monitor progress and inform motion throughout a company’s operations and worth chains.

Because the world experiences worsening impacts of local weather change, we’re additionally serving to to place planetary knowledge into the arms of researchers, governments, corporations, and people via the Planetary Pc. We’re offering open entry to petabytes of environmental monitoring knowledge to assist empower individuals with actionable info to guard their communities.

Microsoft’s sustainability progress requires international engagement. We’re investing in progressive options, advancing analysis, and advocating for insurance policies that we imagine can drive progress at scale. An indicator of this effort has been our Local weather Innovation Fund (CIF) – our $1 billion dedication set in 2020 to advance innovation past Microsoft’s 4 partitions. So far, the CIF has allotted $761 million towards progressive local weather applied sciences together with industrial direct air-capture applied sciences, sustainable aviation gas (SAF), industrial decarbonization, and extra.

Our science, analysis, and AI for Good groups are additionally working to speed up options and develop local weather resilience with AI. In November 2023, we revealed a whitepaper and playbook that expands on the unimaginable potential of AI for sustainability. By means of our AI for Good crew, we’re collaborating with the United Nations to analysis using AI to advance the Early Warning for All Initiative, with a aim of higher understanding the populations which may be prone to excessive climate occasions and different threats.

Final yr, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to as local weather change “the defining challenge of our era.” To fulfill this generational problem, we’re placing sustainability on the middle of our work. With every rising expertise, with every new alternative, we ask ourselves an vital query: How can we advance sustainability?

As we try to reply that query, we’re creating new approaches, experimenting with new partnerships, and studying as we go. We’re optimistic concerning the function expertise can proceed to play in accelerating local weather progress, and we look ahead to working with others on this vital journey for all of us.

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