Microsoft has pledged to be carbon neutral across all its direct operations by the beginning of its fiscal 2013, which begins 1 July next year.
The Redmond giant said this includes its data centres, software development labs, air travel and office buildings, with every department accountable for the carbon they create.
“Microsoft has a long tradition of tackling tough challenges at a global scale. We have always focused on how our technology can enrich people’s lives, build businesses, and inspire and change the world,” said Kevin Turner, COO at Microsoft. “That’s why today, Microsoft is taking a significant step to further reduce our environmental footprint.”
“We recognise that we are not the first company to commit to carbon neutrality, but we are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies large and small to look at what they can do to address this important issue,” he continued
To enforce its pledge, Microsoft has created what it calls an ‘accountability model’ that will introduce an internal carbon fee. The aim is to make individual departments responsible for the cost of offsetting their carbon emissions and will create incentives for greater energy efficiency, increased use of renewable energy and overall reduction of environmental impact.
Microsoft says that for emissions not eliminated through efficiency measures, Microsoft will purchase renewable energy and carbon offsets.
“We believe climate change is a serious challenge requiring a comprehensive and global response from all sectors of society,” added Turner. “This carbon charge-back model is one way we seek to both reduce our impact and test new approaches which we hope are broadly useful for other organisations.”
The initiative is the latest in a number from Microsoft. Earlier this month it said the US Environmental Protection Agency recognised Microsoft as the third largest purchaser of green power in the US, purchasing more than 1.5 billion kWh of green power a year, enough to offset 46 percent of its total electricity use.
Last month, Microsoft revealed plans for biogas-powered ‘data plants’ that would generate their own power and become independent of the energy grid. The company has also helped launch the Eye on Earth network which aggregates and shares environmental data and has been keen to stress the green credentials of Windows 7.
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