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Microsoft Targets Carbon Removal With Climate Research Effort

The Microsoft campus in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Thursday, July 22, 2021. Microsoft Corp. s expected to release earnings figures on July 27.

(Bloomberg) —

Microsoft Corp. has launched a climate research effort in a bid to build a network of participants to tackle some key problems affecting the environment. 

The Microsoft Climate Research Initiative will at first focus on carbon reduction and removal, carbon accounting and environmental resilience, the Redmond, Washington-based company said in a blog post Wednesday. An initial round of nine projects includes work on reducing emissions from cement and monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The projects, all collaborations between company experts and academics, were “curated intentionally where we have opportunity to drive high impact with the use of computational tools as well as specific domain expertise,” a company spokesperson said in an email. The results of these collaborations will be freely available to the public.

One project is examining ways to reduce the environmental impact of cement. The concrete industry accounts for 5-8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, the bulk of which can be attributed to cement, said Eleftheria Roumeli of the University of Washington, one of the researchers. 

“The overarching goal of this exciting new chapter would be to reduce the carbon footprint of cement and minimize the experiment we need to do to deliver sustainable solutions” by taking advantage of machine learning, she said.

Most of the projects are new, though some of the people involved were already engaged in research at the tech giant. Roumeli, for example, was already working with Microsoft’s Bichlien Nguyen to examine the environmental footprint of sustainable materials, green cements and biodegradable plastics from biological matter as part of the company’s Project Zerix, which is trying to create more sustainable materials for the IT industry. Microsoft has pledged to be carbon negative by 2030.

–With assistance from Dina Bass.

To contact the author of this story:
Zahra Hirji in Washington at zhirji@bloomberg.net

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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