New tech, industries can help world achieve net zero emissions: Microsoft

Glasgow: To reach a net zero carbon emissions target, the world must develop new technology and industries, said Microsoft President Brad Smith, even as world leaders deliberate how to limit global climate change at the COP26 conference.

While cutting-edge innovations, particularly in renewables like wind and solar power are needed, “future advances in these technologies need to be paired with progress in other key areas like long-duration battery storage and sustainable aviation fuel”, Smith said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday.

But incremental technologies alone won’t be enough — we also need new industries, he added.

The first Conference of Parties (COP) took place in Berlin in 1995. Since then the UN-led event has brought people together for the shared purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

While the “progress has been too slow in the intervening decades”, Smith stated that the COP26 has shown “universal recognition” to “make faster progress” towards “net zero carbon future”.

But to turn the tide against climate change, especially after so many years of insufficient progress, new fields such as “carbon capture and storage (CCS)” are needed. CCS encompasses a burgeoning set of technologies that remove carbon from the environment and store it deep underground.

He said that Microsoft is working with other technology companies “to build and grow this new market and spur innovation within it”. Last year, the tech giant also purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tonnes of carbon — the largest corporate removal procurement to date.

“This market will grow exponentially in the decade ahead, with estimates ranging for a total market between 500 million and 1.3 billion tons in 2030. To meet the planet’s needs, it will mature into a multi-billion-ton market by 2050,” Smith said.

Smith noted that climate change is “a multifaceted problem, and it requires a multifaceted response”. Although the goals are shared, the methods for achieving them will vary across industries and companies.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to decarbonisation.” He said that the key to addressing climate change “is to partner with every industry to understand how it functions, discern the elements vital to its success, share and adapt solutions, and help our customers chart an informed path to decarbonisation”.