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the path from pledges to progress

As I write this, I’m leaving behind a few busy days in the misty lowlands of Glasgow, Scotland, which is continuing to serve as the host city for the COP26 climate conference. It is an apt setting to test humanity’s resolve in dealing with the urgent reality of global climate change. Scotland’s rolling hills and winding rivers were shaped in part by a glacial retreat beginning roughly 20,000 years ago, a firm reminder of the powerful forces that now are being pushed along by human activity. More recently, in the 1700s, the University of Glasgow provided the site where James Watts tinkered with an early version of his steam engine, an invention that would become not just a driving force for the Industrial Revolution but for  unprecedented prosperity – and carbon – that would spread around the world. Put in this broad perspective, It makes sense for the world to return to Glasgow to imagine a net zero carbon future. 

Since the first Conference of Parties (COP) took place in Berlin in 1995, this UN-led event has brought people together for the d purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Without question, progress has been too slow in the intervening decades. But at COP26, I was struck by a universal recognition that the time simply to point fingers has long since expired. What matters most is that we roll up our sleeves and focus on the hard work needed to make faster progress. Even as disagreements persist over “how,” there is greater clarity on “what.” Mindful of the daunting task ahead, I leave Glasgow feeling more hopeful. For me, a few key learnings emerged. 

  1. Our top-down goals require bottom-up solutions. At COP26, I had an opportunity to engage directly and in person with leaders working on healthcare, manufacturing, steel, electrical generation, cement production, and other fields of huge importance to carbon emissions. What was clear across these conversations is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to decarbonization. Although the goals are d, the methods for achieving them will vary across industries and companies. The key to addressing climate change at a company like Microsoft is to partner with every industry to understand how it functions, discern the elements vital to its success,  and adapt solutions, and help our customers chart an informed path to decarbonization. 
  2.  We can’t manage what we can’t measure. The world’s path to net zero depends on reliable and consistent measurement. It was encouraging to see so much attention devoted to improving common measurement techniques for carbon emissions. This aspect is central to holding countries, industries, and companies accountable for progress. Without sound measurements, we risk simply recycling pledges and raising expectations that we fail to meet. 
  3. The world needs new technology to reach net zero. A lot of new technology. The COP26 conference pavilions were bustling with cutting-edge innovations, particularly in renewables like wind and solar power. Talking with leaders in these fields left me with more hope and greater optimism about the decade ahead. But clearly much more is 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. At our Microsoft booth, we were excited to demo our new Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability. This service wields the power of the Microsoft Cloud to help organizations integrate disparate data sources, accurately build carbon accounting reports, better measure performance against goals, and ultimately glean insights to take more effective action on sustainability. As a technology company, we will continue pushing the envelope on digital solutions that can empower every organization to set, measure, and achieve its sustainability goals, and we will our learnings at every chance along the way. Conversations in Glasgow provide one important way to do this. 
  4. But incremental technologies alone won’t be enough—we also need new industries. Turning the tide against climate change, especially after so many years of insufficient progress, will require new fields that might have sounded either contrived or like science fiction even a decade ago. One prominent example is carbon capture and storage (CCS), which encompasses a burgeoning set of technologies that remove carbon from the environment and store it deep underground. We are working with others to build and grow this new market and spur innovation within it. Last year, Microsoft purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon—the largest corporate removal procurement to date—which accounted for roughly 65 percent  of all the proposals globally that met our requirements for high-quality removal. 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. 
  5. We must adopt an “and” mindset. The sheer complexity of the climate change problem can be overwhelming, often leading us to think in terms of tradeoffs. Do we focus on carbon or methane? Do we reduce emissions or incentivize removal? In every case, the urgency and magnitude of this crisis demand that we do both. It was good to see governments at COP26 align on the Global Methane Pledge, while also recognizing that this cannot reduce the world’s focus on carbon. Climate change is a multifaceted problem, and it requires a multifaceted response. 

It’s worth recognizing that COP26 is taking place against the backdrop of an ongoing global pandemic. Everyone there is required to start their day by taking a rapid test and uploading the results to a central portal. Masks are ubiquitous across the venue. For many, it is the first large event they’ve attended since the seemingly distant days before COVID-19. The experience illustrates human agility and focus in the face of uncertainty, especially when it comes to bringing people together around a common goal to get things done. Solving the climate crisis will require a similar unity of purpose and a commitment to innovation and adaptation. I saw sure signs of that in Glasgow. It gives me hope and inspiration to buckle down and help solve the many challenges that lie ahead. 

إخلاء مسؤولية إن موقع مكساوي يعمل بطريقة آلية دون تدخل بشري،ولذلك فإن جميع المقالات والاخبار والتعليقات المنشوره في الموقع مسؤولية أصحابها وإداره الموقع لا تتحمل أي مسؤولية أدبية او قانونية عن محتوى الموقع.
“جميع الحقوق محفوظة لأصحابها”

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