ESG Today writes that the new policy was announced following Microsoft’s 2024 Environmental Sustainability Report, as the company pledged back in 2020 to become carbon-negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030. At the same time, Microsoft officials said they want to protect more land than the company uses by the same date.

As per the company's 2024 report, Microsoft is on track to hit some of its environment-related objectives, such as reducing operational emissions, as well as accelerating carbon removal efforts and protecting more land and biodiversity. Reducing value chain emissions, however, is stated by company officials to be one of the most challenging tasks, as 2023 Scope 3 emissions were 30% higher than back in 2020.

Microsoft President Brad Smith and Chief Sustainability Officer Melanie Nakagawa said that this is due to the fact that Microsoft built multiple data centers to support growth, as well as equipping the buildings with new hardware.

Scope 3 emissions represent over 96% of Microsoft's emissions, so a growth in these greenhouse gases since 2020 means that overall emissions also rose by 29% in 2023.

Smith and Nakagawa said that "our challenges are in part unique to our position as a leading cloud supplier that is expanding its datacenters. But, even more, we reflect the challenges the world must overcome to develop and use greener concrete, steel, fuels, and chips. These are the biggest drivers of our Scope 3 challenges."

Besides urging its suppliers to use renewable energy in an effort to reduce the company's overall footprint, Microsoft also aims to make progress towards preserving water resources. Among these are the development of technologies that can help reduce water intensity, as well as optimizing the data centers, so that they don't require any water for things like cooling.