When Will Companies Finally Step Up to Fight Climate Change?

Microsoft and BlackRock have made positive moves. But there’s still a lot of money to be made in green tech.

Is a “decarbonized” future possible?

That’s what Microsoft promised it would aim for when it pledged this week to go carbon negative by 2030. It added that it would attempt by 2050 to “remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.” Also on deck: a $1 billion climate innovation fund.

Like a lot of other top tech companies, most of which have done this kind of thing as merely a press release, Microsoft had previously said it would eventually be carbon neutral, largely by reducing emissions and paying for carbon offsets. But with ever more evidence of devastating climate change, and a feeling that carbon neutrality is the least that big companies should do, Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, doubled down, noting that “neutral is not enough to address the world’s needs.”

The Microsoft announcement was preceded by a more surprising one from BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, with $7 trillion under its management. Larry Fink, the chief executive, said in his annual letter to investors that climate change would be a prime focus of the company’s investment decisions. Despite the fact that BlackRock continues to be a major investor in coal, oil and gas companies, he said that the company would begin to step away from certain carbon investments.

“The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance,” he wrote, explaining that climate change is the top concern that investors raise with BlackRock. “In the near future — and sooner than most anticipate — there will be a significant reallocation of capital.”

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