Microsoft Publishes 3rd Annual Report on Carbon Removal Efforts

(Photo: Microsoft headquarters. Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images via Microsoft)

by | Jul 6, 2023

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Microsoft has been working alongside other global companies to establish a carbon removal market for some time. In its third year of reporting on carbon removal purchasing, the company outlined two key trends as carbon removal continues to grow rapidly. 

Namely, the report pointed out an expanding list of carbon removal techniques that fit within smaller-scale circular economy principles, such as agroforestry, which integrates trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems. Other carbon removal methods are focused on building materials, such as ecology firms lO.C.O. and Neustark, which are combining CO2 and waste materials to create, respectively, manufactured aggregate and new concrete, the report stated. 

Within agroforestry, Microsoft noted its supplier, Rabobank’s Acorn program, increases crop resiliency and yields in multiple developing countries. 

“Moreover, the program pays 80% of carbon revenues back to local stakeholders. By its nature, agroforestry often means engaging deeply with local communities and we look forward to more projects in this space,” the report stated.

The second trend Microsoft underscored was the readiness, such that “carbon removal will accrue to places that signal they’re ready to deploy in the future.” This means that carbon removal will start to happen in places where people are ready to build.

Microsoft also outlined the new additions to its carbon removal portfolio, across low-, medium- and high-durability solutions. Low solutions capture carbon for less than 100 years, medium solutions capture carbon for hundreds of years to 1,000 years, while high solutions refer to those that sequester carbon for thousands of years. Forestry and soil approaches are typically the low-durability solutions, with biochar and biomass approaches being the medium- and high-durability solutions.

The new additions included:

  • Low: five forestry projects (greater than 1.8 million metric tons of CO2), one soil carbon project (200,000 metric tons of CO2), and a mangrove blue carbon project (100,000 metric tons CO2)
  • Medium: three biochar projects (greater than 81,000 metric tons CO2) and one kelp-sinking project (12,000 metric tons CO2)
  • High: one BECCS project (greater than 2.67 million metric tons CO2), one CO2 mineralization project (25,000 metric tons CO2), three DAC projects (around 12,000 metric tons CO2), and two ERW projects (greater than 5,000 metric tons CO2). 

One of the biggest challenges to carbon removal will continue to be bringing in more buyers and sellers to increase the marketplace. With many companies, organizations, and localities having carbon emissions goals for 2030, it is important to note the projects in the next couple of years will bring those goals to fruition. 

“We agree: bringing more buyers into the market and more projects to fruition are at the heart of this challenge,” the report stated. “…Demand signals now will drive the majority of capacity deployment by 2030. As our fellow buyers have repeatedly signaled, if you are planning to have removals in your portfolio in 2030, you need to be planning, sourcing projects, and signing purchase agreements now.”

See the full report here

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