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
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • I am so incredibly sick and tired of the stupid climate change garbage. I'm quickly getting to the point where I will decide to do LESS business with companies who are stooping to pushing climate change or ESG efforts. I look down my nose at people who are big supporters of this stuff.
  • Oh, you will be sick and tired alright in a few decades.
  • "I'm quickly getting to the point where I will decide to do LESS business ..."
    Interestingly enough, one person's economic impact is so minuscule as to be as worthless as a comment on it.
  • If he is the only one.
  • TL;DR "My feelings are hurt by the mention of climate change." When did you become such a baby?
  • Totally agree, this climate change bs has been in so called crisis for 50 years. How many times do we need to hear 9 years to go. I heard it first when in primary school in the early 70s. Then repeated and repeated to the point of sounding like a broken record. It's about money.
  • "It's about money." This is about as dumb a comment as I've ever read in a place that wasn't YouTube. Grown ups can read the news and not believe that the things they don't like to hear are a conspiracy. Others, not so much.
  • Believe the news? Lol. Grown ups know, that if you believe what you read in the manipulated corporate media than you’re a happy little sheep. Others not so much. You probably believe that C19 was zoonotic transfer. Remember when you’d get banned or posts removed from social for saying “lab leak”. Or you got accused of racism if you said it came from China. Sure go ahead believe the US sponsored media. Bill Gates has spent 300 million on influencing the news. Bahhhhhhhh
  • It is good MS is working to be more efficient and reduce their consumption of fossil fuels... evidenced by the new age of inflation and the oil shock from the russian invasion of ukraine. But too many of these exercises are pure PR, handwaving, and virtue signaling without actually achieving anything meaningful. Like the EU heavy industries that migrated their dirtiest facilities to north africa and used their "Reduction Credits" to offset their emission in the continent. Nothing achieved other than meeting a "goal" on paper. Or consider that one of TESLA's bigger revenue streams is selling some of their carbon credits from manufacturing the cars and batteries they were going to manufacture anyway. In fact, it was only last year that they finally got big enough to make a reportable profit from cars and batteries (after new factory investment) separate from the hundreds of millions they raked in annually by selling credits. Theres's a lot less here than meets the PR.
  • Carbon credits are not PR. They create an incentive for companies to reduce their carbon footprint. That's the whole point. They also help fund startups and other growing companies that create low-carbon products or have low-carbon processes but may not yet be profitable. That precisely describes Tesla. It is amazing how widely conspiracy theories are believed.
  • Okay, riddle me this:
    How much of a real world change is produced by VW paying Tesla for the carbon credits associated with EV production that allow them to keep on making as many ICE vehicles as before carbon credits? It isn't carbon credits that is forcing VW to belatedly try to get into the EV business, it is the milion vehicles TESLA is building and *selling* each year and the giant factory they are building in VW's backyard in Berlin. Or FORD or GM or JEEP belatedly trying to be where TESLA was 10 years ago. FORD isn't pricing its (limited run) EV F-150 truck cheaper than its ICE F-150 top seller, undercutting their own product because of carbon credits or UN ratings but because TESLA's CYBERTRUCK is priced tbat way. The need to protect market share is driving the policy, not promises to "do better" or "step up" or a sudden awakening to ecological needs. Just plain simple $$$$ needs. Real change isn't coming from a made-up "currency" but from the hard work of scientists and engineers and real world market forces. Is that a conspiracy theory? Try paying attention to what companies actually do instead of what they say they will, some day, somehow, do. Deeds, not words.