American companies show their desire to get out of “greenwashing”

“We are going through an existential crisis. If we do not act quickly, we run into disaster ”, affirms Elizabeth Willmott, former environmental activist, who became director of the Microsoft group’s carbon program. Gone are the days when big American companies got a green makeover inexpensively by planting a few trees on their campuses. Global warming has convinced management teams that they were expected by the company and their employees on the paradigm shift and the creation of large-scale projects.

When Elizabeth Willmott joined the Seattle group five years earlier in 2016, there were only a handful of them making the case. They are now more than twenty and work in the team of Dr. Lucas Joppa, the first environmental chief, a graduate in ecology from Duke University. Microsoft has also created a climate council, which includes executives, vice presidents and experts to monitor progress.

“The carrot and the stick”

Since 2020, the group has committed to becoming “carbon negative” in 2030. This means that it will eliminate more CO2 than it produces. The 2050 objective is to remove from the atmosphere everything the company has emitted since its creation in the 1970s. The company has certainly been carbon neutral since 2012, but this This commitment leaves environmental defenders skeptical, who see nothing but empty promises: the CO2 burial technique recommended by Microsoft is still in its infancy. In a 2013 opinion, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe), while recognizing that the capture and storage of CO2 represent a lever for action, qualifies this technology as “Expensive and energy intensive”.

Microsoft wants to convince of its political will to which it associates all its employees. The company invoices as well each department (real estate, data centers, cloud services, procurement, etc.) a price for its carbon emissions. The internal rate is 15 dollars (approximately 12.70 euros) per tonne.

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Since 2020, the supply chain is included in the system. This means that when a branch uses the services of a very polluting supplier, it pays the price. “It’s the carrot and the stick, recognizes Mme Willmott. Groups that do not want to pay choose better suppliers on their own. “For an intellectual like me, this price is really important because you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, she concludes.

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