Report: Microsoft is leading the way on climate pledges, ahead of Apple and Google

Microsoft HQ
Microsoft HQ (Image credit: Windows Central)

A wide-ranging report examining climate pledges of 55 of the world's biggest companies have put Microsoft right at the top, beating out tech rivals like Amazon, Google, and even EV pioneer Tesla, which surprisingly scored far lower marks.

The report from As You Sow grades the world's biggest companies by market cap on a range of scales that align with the Paris Agreement climate goals. Many of the world's biggest companies are aiming to achieve a "net-zero" greenhouse gas (GHG) emission business operation, leveraging things like green credits, technology investment, while also reducing waste and fossil fuel use. Microsoft has a large operation dedicated to tackling its climate goals, with aims not only to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions operationally but also, it wants to account for all of its greenhouse gas emissions since the company was founded.

Microsoft was one of only two companies to achieve an "A grade" from the monitoring organization alongside PepsiCo, defeating Google's parent company Alphabet who scored a B, and Apple, who scored a B-. Facebook's parent company, Meta, flunked out with a D. The report was punishing toward companies that don't full report their climate pledges and emissions. As a result, EV pioneer Tesla wallowed all the way at the bottom of the pack, with an F grade, putting it below oil megacorps like Exxon.

Source: MicrosoftMicrosoft does annual updates on its climate progress, unlike many other large corporations. (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The Paris Climate agreement describes three central "scopes" to measure a company's impact on the environment. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions, with Scope 2 being indirect emissions, from things like operational electrical use. The report criticized companies like Tesla for failing to report Scope 3 emissions, which pertain to GHG released as a result of their supply chains and external use of their products.

In a previous interview, we discussed Scope 3 emissions with Microsoft, who pledged to achieve carbon offsets for all of its products ever made and owned. That means offsetting the historical emissions of people using Windows PCs or Xbox consoles over the past few decades, for example. Scope 3 emissions are trickier for larger companies to report on potentially. It's frequently cited that electric vehicle charging stations are often powered by fossil fuel grid pipelines, for example, which naturally offsets the benefits of their rechargeable nature.

Reports like this will help increase pressure on companies to take their Scope 3 GHG emissions a little more seriously. In any case, it's another example of Microsoft being one of the few companies that seem to take its social responsibility somewhat seriously.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!