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Large Companies Supporting Sustainable Development

Author: Nathaniel Schmitz

Have you ever wondered what actions tech companies are taking to fight climate change? With estimated values well over $1-trillion they are in a position to trailblaze the way forward and help solve the world’s largest problem. In Bill Gates’ 2016 letter he said, “We need a massive amount of research into thousands of new ideas—even ones that might sound a little crazy—if we want to get to zero emissions by the end of this century.”

Microsoft has pledged to be carbon negative by 2030, and by 2050 they plan to remove all the carbon they have emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since the company was founded. Carbon negative means they will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they contribute. Another Microsoft project is AI for Earth, which puts AI (artificial intelligence) in the hands of researchers so they can work on improving fishing sustainability, forest management, and agricultural practices. For example, AI for Earth partnered with SunCulture to help small farms in Africa maximize yields and reduce waste.

Another company that is doing its part is Google’s parent company, Alphabet. They are a holding company that provides resources for innovative projects that do not fit under Google’s brand. One such project is Sidewalk Labs. They are developing a smart city for Toronto’s waterfront with sustainability goals such as:

  • low-energy buildings that are well-insulated with smart ventilation systems.

  • clean electricity using biogas created from a process called anaerobic digestion.

  • waste reduction using regularly updated recycling guidelines.

Google is also taking part in the fight against climate change with its Environmental Insights Explorer. This online software uses Google’s data sources to provide cities with actionable insights on building emissions, transportation emissions, and rooftop solar potential.

Apple is another company that is investing in the well-being of Earth’s climate. They are helping their manufacturing partners switch over to renewable resources. Many of the suppliers Apple uses often supply components for other companies too, such as FOXCONN, which is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer. Another contribution Apple made to the climate crisis is their “Green Bonds” program, which provides money for companies that are helping with climate change. In 2019, Apple pledged $2.2 billion for their Green Bonds program, bringing the total to $4.7 billion over the last few years. In the same year, they announced that over 1 million acres of forestry are under improved management because of their efforts.

This highlights the importance of private actors that have the financial ability to not only promote sustainability within their own company, but also offer support to other businesses who are trying to achieve the same goals.

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