Microsoft, once the big, bad and bullying tech giant, has reinvented itself in recent years as a more progressive company executing impressive work on social enterprise and environmental issues. The company’s carbon neutrality strategy, which launched last year, is starting to show results in part because of investments in carbon offsets. Add to that Microsoft’s progress on biodiversity, leveraging technology for health care and an attempt to boost youth employment and technical skills, and the company has developed a strong corporate social responsibility program that is part philanthropy, part employee-driven and also pays heed to environmental stewardship.
Microsoft’s carbon strategy started with an internal accounting system the company’s finance department charged to each business unit. Those fees were deposited into a central fund from which Microsoft could then invest in clean energy or carbon offset projects.
So far, the company has invested in 15 carbon offset projects across the world. Here are a few highlights:
One of the smallest states in Brazil, Acre is tucked away in a remote northwestern corner of the nation and lies entirely within the Amazonian basin. Agriculture and infrastructure development have led to deforestation within one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Microsoft’s investment in the Acre Amazonian Rainforest Conservation Project aims to prevent deforestation of 35,000 hectares of rainforest by working with local farmers to diversify their crops and adopt more sustainable farming procedures.
The largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world has this title in part because one third of China’s emissions are from manufacturing the world’s goods. But the country is also becoming a global force in solar and wind power. One example is the Chifeng Wind Power Project, a 50 megawatt power wind farm in which Microsoft has become a large investor. Chifeng claims it will reduce carbon emissions by 150,000 tons annually.
Africa is the world’s new economic frontier, which means its fragile ecology will endure additional threats in the coming years. Subsistence farming and the demand for charcoal has had a huge impact within Africa’s forests. In Kenya, the Meru Nanyuki Community Reforestation Project supervises over 4,000 community-based programs that provide farmers with annual payments for planted trees. The trees are an effort to reforest Kenya, which has lost four-fifths of its forest cover over the past century. Meru Nanyuki will also improve soil erosion and water catchment areas, which in the end will also be an economic benefit for local farmers as their yields improve.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit of deforested state in the state of Acre, Brazil: CarbonNeutral.com]