Microsoft employees call company 'complicit' in climate crisis in joint letter

What you need to know

  • Microsoft employees released a letter protesting Microsoft's role in climate change.
  • Microsoft recently announced a partnership with Schlumberger and Chevron.
  • The Global Climate Strike starts on September 20, 2019.

Microsoft workers released a letter protesting Microsoft's role in climate change (via The Verge). The letter was posted on Github, and states that "it's no longer possible for us to ignore Microsoft's complicity in the climate crisis." The letter was posted days before the Global Climate Strike. As pointed out by The Verge, several employees from Microsoft, Amazon, and Google plan to participate in the strike.

The letter from Microsoft employees was released just days after Microsoft announced partnerships with Chevron and Schlumberger. The letter from Microsoft employees discusses those contracts as well as Microsoft's partnership with Equinor last year.

In this week's company-wide all-hands, our CEO, Satya Nadella, defended our contracts with Big Oil by suggesting that our technology helps them in their R&D efforts to develop sustainable energy. Yet, this is in clear contradiction to the ambitions of fossil fuel-CEOs and even other Microsoft leaders.

The letter calls for action and states that tech companies have the technology and resources required to affect climate change.

If we want to make real impact, all of us need to mobilize, work together, and demand a fundamental change in Microsoft's priorities. It's clear that the tech industry is one of the main culprits behind our burning planet, both in consuming a great deal of fossil fuels through power hungry datacenters and supporting Big Oil companies. But we also have to recognize that we're equipped with so many resources that we can leverage to steer our industry and government in the right direction.

Microsoft has not released an official response at the time of publication.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

28 Comments
  • Good for them. A lot of these tech companies want to pretend that 'it's just business' while their technology changes the world, often times for the worse. They must realize that cloud services forever links you to the companies and nations you do business with.
  • Cloud services are often(mostly) more efficient than on premise IT departments self hosting. This is not about that. It’s supposed complicity due to their business parterning or clients. Seems like snowflakes whining to me. The climate is changing but it’s not an immediate crisis. UK carbon emissions are down over the last few decades. There are more trees in the northern hemisphere now than 35 years ago. There should be a balanced view, not just the whining of people with red hair and facial piercings who aren’t in possession of the full facts 😝
  • I agree with you right up to climate change not being an immediate crisis. It absolutely is, and the longer we wait to act the worse it will get. The greenhouse effect has feedback loops, and if it reaches a critical point (which is very quickly approaching) it will be irreversible - latest models indicate a 7°C increase in global average temperature by 2100. The biggest effect on society this will have is wider and more extreme droughts, which means less and less usable land for producing enough food (whether crops or livestock) for an ever increasing global population.
    It's not a case of any one person/city/country doing enough. To stop, and eventually even reverse the warming trend, is going to take a planet-wide effort, because ultimately everyone on the planet will suffer if we don't.
  • This deal is a direct result result of the fiscal policy pursued by the penny pinchers and share price increase at any cost mantra. They have cut so much staff that any staff cuts or re-arrangements is no longer feasible without completely decimating staff morale. There is hope however as there are some in Microsoft who can see the wisdom investing resources i.e Xbox which was slashed badly thus Xbox hardly had any first party titles and now has the most powerful current gen console along with many new studios bringing in world class talent under the leadership of Phil Spencer.
  • No it’s not.
  • Actually it is - you need to look at the patterns and actions of individuals along with the actions of the company as a whole.
  • I understand the outrage, but tech companies do have to work with companies to work towards a solution. If Company A won't take their business, then Company B,C,D, etc will. If they're upset that server farms use a high number of resources, then have people stop using their devices. There are moves being made to go towards renewable energy, but it takes time.
  • The only entity that is complicit in the so-called "climate crisis" is named Sol.
    #ActualScienceNotPoliticalJunkScience
  • Science like 98% of scientists agree that civilization is accelerating climate change. Assuming the other 2% are not morons, they are lying. We add 40 billion tons a year (more than 100 billion tons a day) of particulate to the atmosphere. That's tons of particles not particles. Think about that for a minute. You would have to not believe in the laws of thermal dynamics to say that is not having an increasingly dire effect upon our climate. Unless y
  • That 98% number has been debunked numerous times. It's not even remotely accurate because a large majority of that 98% made no comment about the human effects of climate change. They clumped in the no comments with those who agreed to make it look like massive consensus. It was also specifically in response to one or two papers, which is not an accurate representation of their actual opinions on the matter.
  • Why do you lie so much? The remaining Koch is paying you?
    It's not just one study that says 98% of scientists agree, it's so many.
    And even if 70% agreed, it wouldn't matter. It's called SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS and you WILL listen to scientific consensus and not individual scientists.
    But to show how you are lying, here is the results from MULTIPLE studies on percentage of climate scientists agreeing:
    https://static.skepticalscience.com/graphics/studies_consensus.jpg So you know better about it or NASA?
    https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/17/do-scientists-agree-on-climate-change/
  • You WILL put your faith in what scientists tell you. If you don't believe them you are mental!
  • That's ridiculous, how could any scientist not believe in the law of thermal dynamics
  • "We add 40 billion tons a year (more than 100 billion tons a day)" Looks like you don't believe in the laws of math.
  • Lol. You win the internet today 👍🏻😝
  • I'm guessing he meant either 40 trillion for the first metric, or 100 million for the second.
  • More like English, obviously a typo. It should have read millons
  • Yeah, Milankovitch Cycles have already been accounted for (I mean really, you don't think something so obvious wouldn't be taken into account?), and have no impact on the current warming trend. Not to mention, those cycles operate on the time scale of 1,000s of years rather than the 150 or so years we're actually seeing.
  • I hope that anyone striking MS for Climate Change is fired, and anyone that signs their name to this protest letter gets reprimanded. This is not the way to affect change, only to go out of business. SMH
  • So employees shouldn't disagree with their company's actions?
  • Not a bad idea for the employees who want to make change. They can force Microsoft to abandon the contracts and the income, in turn forcing additional layoffs/firings. Then those people who are let go won't have to drive their cars to work, saving the environment and combating climate change. Sounds like a solid plan.
  • There was an interesting story some time back, where a city/state had a voter referendum about raising the minumum wage. Lets call it proposition 5. It passed. One company owner had to lay off workers to remain solvent with the new wage structure. He chose who to lay off, by who had 'support proposition 5' bumper stickers on their car.' If you don't agree with the companies policies, go work somewhere else.
  • The ethics on this are clear: 1. If you believe your employer is doing something wrong, and assuming you're not at risk of suffering physical harm (e.g., your concern is that your employer is murdering whistleblowers), then you must try to fix it from within.
    2. If it doesn't change to your satisfaction, and you believe it's a serious wrong, then quit
    3. For any employees who don't quit and bad-mouth the company publicly, they should be fired. After you've quit (#2 above), you no longer have an obligation to support your employer, so assuming it's not a violation of a confidentiality agreement, then you can badmouth the company all you want with the added street-cred of having walked away from the paycheck to prove your integrity. Quit first, complain publicly second. The subject matter of the issue doesn't matter. Employees who choose to work against the interests of their employer should stop getting paychecks from that employer. In this case, it's even worse than that generic ethics point, because they are blasting their employer over a deal simply because of the party with whom Microsoft is doing business. Basically, they don't like that MS accepted an oil company as a customer. It's also not like this is over bad working conditions or anything where you could maybe argue it's a public version of a whistleblower situation. This information was already public. That means they believe Microsoft is being publicly unethical. Why would anyone want to work for a company who is unethical? Hypocrisy and desire for the payment without any consequences or responsibility. Show some respect to your employer, you unethical, self-centered, hypocritical jerks. Very much hope MS fires them all.
  • I feel that for an American, you could do more than this. You should evaluate how you live and think how to reduce you CO2 footprint. Especially the US, per person CO2 footprint is the biggest. Sometimes when I watch Youtube video, the amount of automation in each house is staggering. You would have Alexa, Vacuum cleaner robot, always on TV. Another big chunk for each person CO2 footprint may be disposed food. I am living in a developing country. We do not have so much EV car and people still burn the forest to plant something else. But we do not have so many automation in our house. We are supposed to unplug everything before leave our home because the electricity is quite expensive comparing to our salary. We do not have always on Alexa and we do not have Vacuum cleaner robot because it is quite expensive and our house is not big. Oh, an average house in US is far bigger than our average house here. We just use a basic broom and mob to clean our house. You would argue that those activities may create more CO2 but I would doubt that.
  • The desire to be able to have and use things and live a better life is pretty much responsible for all the advances in human history. It's because one person wants to have a better life, meaning wants more money, that he or she finds a way to offer something that never existed before (new invention) or at a lower price (improvement or efficiency) and offers that to an eager market. If other people want this to make their lives better, they'll buy it. It's that quest for profit and a better life that is behind just about everything we take for granted living in a modern world, including mass food production, disease smashing drugs, and computers. So the goal should absolutely NOT be to cut back on consumption, because that just hurts everyone (as history has shown time and a again, socialism kills people), but rather to find a way to produce things people want so that they use less power (which also makes them cheaper to use -- making them more attractive to all customers, not just the few who foolishly believe in forced austerity), or that the power they use is cleaner. In the US, many households now have solar panels on the roof, meaning all of their TV-watching and Internet-connected devices don't re-release any CO2 into the atmosphere. And why did they add solar panels? Well, if they're going to live in their houses long enough, simply because it's cheaper than continuing to pay power bills for decades. If you want to help the world reduce CO2, find a way to make cheaper solar panels or solar panels that produce more watts per square foot per hour of sunlight. If solar energy were cheap enough to capture, we'd all use it. By the way, just on stats, the US is not even in the top 10 countries in terms of power usage per person. Countries like Canada, Australia, and Luxembourg all use more, along with oil-producing countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where oil-based power is really cheap, so naturally they use more of it. And in total, China has dumped more than twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the US since 2017. (reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions)
  • It's not just the company though. The employees themselves are complicit and should admit that
  • And if they feel that strongly about it...quit.
  • look at mixer in the past year encouraging lurking in streams to get sparks. these sparks could be spent on friends. even now they still encourage it so a point. that wastes devices energy. internet usage. data transfer across fiber lines. server energy spent running servers for users who are not actively watching or may not even be at the device to see the stream. .. is streaming green? nope.. is mixer green? nope. not as long as we publicly convince users to lurk in streams.