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Because of the AI ​​attack: Microsoft's climate goals are in danger – News

Because of the AI ​​attack: Microsoft's climate goals are in danger – News

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The tech giant is pursuing ambitious climate goals. The overwhelming thirst for semiconductors and microchips puts them at risk.

Tech company Microsoft's climate emissions have increased by about a third since 2020. This is primarily due to building out artificial intelligence infrastructure, according to Microsoft's new sustainability report. The report sounds like an admission: Microsoft has already set itself ambitious climate goals.

So-called “Scope 3 emissions” are primarily responsible for this increase. “These are emissions that Microsoft does not emit directly on its own corporate premises, but rather originate from suppliers and customers,” explains Klaus Amann, Business Editor at SRF.

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Scope 3 emissions make up 96 percent of Microsoft's CO2 emissions. Pictured: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Getty Images/Dimas Ardian

For example: An Asian semiconductor producer, of which Microsoft is a customer, builds a new production plant made of concrete and powered by natural gas – and then the US tech giant's “Scope 3 emissions” increase. It is difficult for Microsoft to control such emissions.

Arms race between technology giants

The group is currently engaged in an arms race in the field of artificial intelligence with competitors such as Amazon and Google. “With the additional use of artificial intelligence, the reported emissions have increased dramatically. Because this requires enormous computing power,” says Aman.

An industrial machine that produces microchips under red lighting.

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Semiconductors and microchips are the raw materials driving the AI ​​attack. The hunger for that is currently enormous.

CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The group wants to achieve a net zero goal by 2030. In the wake of that, Microsoft also wants to remove all emissions from the atmosphere for which it has been responsible since its founding in 1975.

Net zero by 2030 seems relatively unrealistic for Microsoft today.

In its sustainability report, Microsoft acknowledges that achieving the desired climate goals will be a major challenge. But you don't want to spell it again. In fact, the company has already invested significant sums, for example, in capturing carbon dioxide from the air, Aman says. “Net zero by 2030 seems relatively unrealistic today.”

Microsoft also wants to influence its key suppliers to rely fully on renewable energies by 2030. At the same time, it is hoped that we can reduce emissions by using new, more efficient technologies.

In principle, Amann believes it would be appropriate for companies to work to ensure that suppliers also commit to greater climate protection. This will also likely result in higher costs for Microsoft.

Google and company also have some catching up to do

Also at Google, the latest sustainability figures indicate that emissions are increasing. Among major US technology companies, only Apple appears to have recently achieved a slight reduction in emissions. However, none of the companies were on their way to net zero.

“As of today, all the tech giants face challenges and must significantly accelerate their climate action if they want to achieve their, in some cases very ambitious, climate goals,” Amann concludes.