Microsoft's Race For AI Leadership Pushed Their Carbon Emission Dangerously High

By Thea Felicity

May 16, 2024 02:05 PM EDT

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This photograph taken on January 19, 2024 shows a sign of American corporation Microsoft displayed during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos.
(Photo : FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
Microsoft faces criticism as its carbon emissions surge due to its aggressive push into artificial intelligence (AI), as Japan Times reported.

Despite commitments to become carbon negative by 2030, the company's recent sustainability report reveals a 30% increase in its environmental impact since 2020. This surge, fueled by the demands of AI technology, challenges Microsoft's climate objectives.

Microsoft's President, Brad Smith acknowledges the dilemma and defended the impact, citing the exponential growth in AI's energy needs since the company's carbon moonshot initiative in 2020. 

The reliance on data centers for AI processing further worsens the problem, necessitating heavy investments in carbon-intensive infrastructure like steel, concrete, and microchips.

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Microsoft's AI Goals Under Scrutiny By Many

While Microsoft believes in the potential of AI to benefit society, employees have also raised concerns about the company's involvement in projects that enhance oil extraction, contradicting its sustainability goals.

Now, the AI-driven emissions surge isn't unique to Microsoft, as competitors like Google, Meta Platforms, and Amazon also struggle to reconcile AI expansion with climate commitments. 

While Microsoft claims to be powered by renewables, critics argue that reliance on renewable energy credits (RECs) masks the true extent of its emissions growth.

To address the challenge, Microsoft aims to increase efficiency, invest in sustainable aviation fuels, and collaborate on breakthrough technologies for greener infrastructure. 

However, at the moment, the company faces obstacles such as limited access to green power due to inadequate transmission infrastructure.

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