Microsoft

Microsoft is one of the world's largest companies by market capitalisation.

Its business operations have been carbon neutral since 2012.

In 2019 the company decided to go further by beginning the journey to expand its carbon neutrality from operations to the life-cycle of its products.

As a first step, it has made 825,000 Xbox consoles CarbonNeutral?, to become the world's first gaming console to become a carbon neutral product across the lifecycle of its emissions.

“Climate change is impacting each industry and every sector, and we believe technology can play a critical role in enabling and empowering the response to this challenge. Initiatives like the CarbonNeutral Xbox pilot provide a great opportunity to tap into Microsoft’s technology sustainability and gaming community to make a difference in this key area of our business.”

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming, Microsoft

1

Define

CarbonNeutral product certification required Microsoft to include all the emissions from the raw materials, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of the Xbox console, its controllers and its packaging.

2

Measure

To measure these emissions Microsoft worked with an independent third-party organisation which is an expert in emissions analysis, to conduct a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of the greenhouse gas emissions.

This included collecting data on the indirect emissions from the production and transport of raw materials to the manufacturing centres; direct emissions from on-site fossil fuels, purchased electricity associated with production; transportation to distribution centres; emissions associated with the use of the product; and indirect emissions from disposal of the product at end of life

3

Target

Microsoft’s first CarbonNeutral product is a new part of a wider programme of targets to reduce the company’s carbon emissions:

  • It has a Science-Based emission reduction target for its value chain emissions which will see it cut by 30 percent per unit of revenue by 2030 from a 2017 baseline.
  • It has also committed to cut operational carbon emissions by 75 percent by 2030.

4

Reduce

Microsoft has made the 825,000 Xbox consoles CarbonNeutral today by making reductions to the lifecycle emissions, through purchasing renewable electricity and verified emissions reductions, otherwise known as carbon offsets.

In the decade since the Xbox 360 was launched, Microsoft has made various reductions to the emissions of the product through a dramatic reduction in its energy use: the power consumption per unit of performance of the Xbox One X, launched in 2017, was more than 90% lower than the Xbox 360.

Microsoft is using 100% renewable energy across its manufacturing sites.

Finally, Microsoft has made the Xbox consoles carbon neutral by financing the Sichuan China Biodigesters project.

The project distributes small-scale biogas plants to low-income rural households with livestock in China. Households are equipped with devices that save methane emissions by converting previously untreated animal manure into clean biogas. The biogas can then be used for cooking, heating and lighting instead of burning coal and firewood in open fireplaces. So far the project has reduced carbon dioxide emissions and harmful smoke in 400,000 small-holder farmer households.

Microsoft manufactures its Xbox consoles in China and is working to implement circular economy principles into the product and its packaging. The biodigester project in Sichuan was a good fit both because of its location and its use of a waste product to generate energy. In addition, the project is currently undertaking a study into the benefits it has on water bodies and drainage systems, which is of interest to Microsoft for its own work on water conservation.

5

Communicate

The CarbonNeutral Xbox was announced during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September 2019 and as part of the 'Playing for the Planet' Alliance of 14 platforms and games makers.

The Alliance aims to bring green programming to their combined audiences of nearly one billion gamers.

Microsoft’s Xbox commitment complements other plans to ensure its software makes a contribution to fighting climate change: "Minecraft" will host the "Build the Better World" programme to guide players about how they can contribute to the movement. In-game activations through collaborations with NGOs like WWF and The Nature Conservancy fund panda protection and coral reef restoration, encouraging gamers to click through to find out more about the campaigns.

The programme is part of Microsoft's mission to use technology to empower organisations and individuals to solve environmental sustainability challenges.

The CarbonNeutral Xbox was announced during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September 2019 as part of the 'Playing for the Planet' Alliance of 14 platforms and games makers.

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