In 2012, Microsoft declared the company “carbon neutral” as it was considered general etiquette for businesses.
Since then, the company has taken steps towards sustainability by purchasing enough green power to equal it’s electricity consumption, investing in restoration and planning to reduce its emissions by 75% until 2030.
“We’ve been so focused on reducing the environmental footprint of our own operations–that was really the traditional focus,” says Lucas Joppa, the company’s chief environmental officer. He reveals that even though Microsoft has greatly dedicated its resources towards reducing its environmental impact, the effort has remained reasonably internal
Microsoft plans to turn their attention outwards by making it’s artificial intelligence and technology expertise readily available for environmental research and advocacy efforts.
“The reason we’re doing this is almost perfectly correlated with impatience,” Joppa says. “The reality shows that no matter how successful we are, sustainability actions inside of our own four walls are entirely insufficient for moving the world toward an environmentally sustainable future.”
The same concept applies elsewhere in the business world. Massive scale environmental change can’t take place no matter how much an individual company works to hit their personal sustainability goals.
In order to fight climate change, Microsoft has decided to use artificial intelligence and technology. The environmental data sets on their cloud platform known as Azure will be gathered and hosted to be publicly accessible. Since the information files are too large, it’ll require an advanced cloud computing platform for researchers to use. Azure A.I, being a very efficient service, takes care of the problem.
Using Data Lens, Microsoft will also be expanding their work with other nonprofit organizations that are working on climate issues. In the past, it has worked with a water management company Ecolab to create a tool that would evaluate a company’s use of water. After they cut down their usage and waste, this tool would help them draw conclusions to how it would benefit the environment and the finances.
For further environment’s sustainability, the company has also planned on working with The Yield, an organization that provides weather insights for farmers by using sensors. Microsoft will be enhancing their services using A.I, helping them forecast weather and soil state beforehand.
After the results of the research with PwC, Joppa concluded that ”a rapid adoption of AI-based technology has the potential to not only make significant gains for the environment, but also for the GDP overall,”.
The company realized that expanding AI usage over the four sectors (agriculture, water, energy, and transportation), the global GDP could go up by almost 4.4% by 2030. It could also result in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 4% in the next 11 years.
“We need to get past the idea that acting on climate will slow economic growth,” Joppa says.
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