Shaping a greener future for our planet is too big a task for anyone to take on alone.
And with the world’s environmental experts calling for urgent action, there’s simply no time to lose. In the last two decades, we have experienced 18 of the warmest years on record and scientists warn that, without action, global warming is likely to increase by 2°C by 2060. This means that the next 10 years will be pivotal in turning the tide on climate change.
Even amid the challenges of the past year, Europe never lost sight of its ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, as set out in the European Green Deal. Digital technologies are a vital part of the EU’s green growth strategy. Businesses, governments and NGOs must work together to implement new technologies, innovative solutions and forward-thinking public policy that reflects our collective vision of a more prosperous and sustainable tomorrow.
That’s why we’re proud to come together with over 20 of the world’s leading digital companies to form a European Green Digital Coalition, and sign a declaration to support the green and digital transformation of the EU, launched at Digital Day 2021.
"The commitment taken today by member states and companies sends a strong political message that Europe can be a leader in greening the ICT sector and developing green digital solutions. I think if we want to reach this objective we need all actors to work together and I’m thrilled to see the launch of the European Green Digital Coalition today, a project that the European Parliament strongly supports." – Valerie Hayer, Member of the European Parliament
Today marks an important step in public-private cooperation toward ensuring profound, long-lasting change. This new coalition will accelerate Europe’s transition to a green economy. Its commitments are bold and clear:
- Investing in the development and deployment of green digital solutions.
- Working with organizations to help effectively measure the environmental impact of green digital solutions.
- Promoting the sharing of key learnings and best practices across sectors.
The announcement sends out a clear signal of intent from the private sector to step-up in the fight against climate change, reflecting the EU’s dedication to our shared environmental goals.
Today, EU member states also signed a parallel declaration on efforts to deploy digital solutions to drive sustainability efforts. These initiatives will play a critical role in delivering on Europe’s climate-neutral mission.
“Now is the time for increased collaboration and innovation to tackle the climate crisis. This Coalition goes beyond a simple pledge, with EU institutions and industry joining forces to advance shared climate ambitions, by accelerating investment in innovative digital solutions for the benefit of Europe’s sustainable future.” – Casper Klynge, Vice-President, European Government Affairs
Tech for Green Growth
As a response to the EU’s commitment to create a greener, more digital and resilient Europe, last year Microsoft launched ‘Tech Fit 4 Europe’ to acknowledge the particular role the tech sector must play in helping realize the region’s green ambitions. Grounded in the central belief that technology will be crucial in solving the world’s biggest challenges as a key enabler in the transition to a green economy, the initiative looks to actively contribute toward the European Commission’s 55% emissions reduction targets by 2030 while promoting economic growth. This will be achieved through a mix of boosting digital skills, pushing for greater inclusivity and bridging the digital divide.
Achieving a green recovery requires setting ever-higher standards and working together to leverage individual efforts. For these reasons, Microsoft announced its own bold ambitions to shape a greener tomorrow by becoming carbon negative by 2030 and removing all of the carbon the company has ever emitted by 2050, through initiatives such as powering its data centers with 100 percent wind, solar, or hydropower energy by 2025.
Concretely, delivering the green transition and limiting the increase in global temperatures to no more than 1.5°C is not possible without carbon removal. To this end, Microsoft has set up the $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to invest in organizations fighting climate change through carbon removal technology, such as Swiss company Climeworks. In this white paper, we explain our rationale for focusing on carbon removal, our approach to selecting carbon removal projects, details of the projects we selected in 2021, and the lessons we have learned so far.
And Microsoft looks to take further responsibility by becoming water positive by 2030, achieving zero waste by 2030 and protecting the planet’s ecosystems. More on the journey towards achieving these goals so far can be found in our Sustainability Report, which also covers key learnings from the past year.
To succeed in transforming and meeting these ambitious goals, trusted partnerships are essential. Microsoft works with sustainability partners across Europe, whose dedication to reducing their environmental impact inspires us day after day.
One such partner joins us in signing up to the coalition today. Specializing in energy management and automation, Schneider Electric helps stakeholders from numerous sectors with their water management, waste optimization and climate change compliance – all through the use of technology.
Through its AI for Earth program, Microsoft works with numerous organizations looking to use cloud and AI to solve global environmental challenges. A great example of this is the important work of the National University of Ireland, Galway, who develops machine learning technology to help optimize honeybee-friendly agricultural practices. As one of the most important pollinators, these creatures play a vital role in maintaining the food supply.
With partners like these in mind, it’s clear that collaboration, technological innovation and human ingenuity can help solve the world’s environmental challenges.
This Coalition will enable those involved to put the power of collaboration and innovative digital solutions into action, in bringing about a sustainable Europe.
This article was first published on 19 March by Microsoft.