Along with Accenture, GitHub, ThoughtWorks, and the Linux Foundation, Microsoft is helping to form the Green Software Foundation (GSF).
The nonprofit says it will set engineering standards to help the sector achieve its goal of the Paris Agreement: reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030. As members of the Paris committee, management, Microsoft and other founding partners will pay $ 100,000 to GSF members.
But, but, but …Even in light of GSF’s goal of reducing software carbon emissions, Microsoft told Emerging Tech Brew that it would not review the many oil and gas partnerships it has for cloud computing. Microsoft’s vice president of developer relations, Jeff Sandquist, said in an email statement that the company is “committed to working with all of our customers, including those in the oil and gas business.”
Azure, Microsoft’s arm in the cloud, provides artificial intelligence tools, machine learning and computer vision tools to Chevron, BP, Shell, the subsidiary of Exxon XTO and Equinor (formerly Statoil). Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell are the third, fourth, sixth and seventh largest carbon emitters on the planet, respectively.
- Chevron and Equinor bids are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
- Google Cloud and AWS, Microsoft’s leading competitors in cloud computing, also have similar partnerships.
Sandquist said, “We believe the best way to a sustainable future is to help accelerate the energy transition,” but it’s unclear how current projects help transition to clean energy, as many focus on doing more efficient production of fossil fuels. For example…
- Microsoft’s XTO project offers “new insights into well operations and future drilling possibilities.”
- The Chevron deal is designed in part to allow for more efficient oil exploration.
Microsoft declined to say how these alliances coincide with the goal of accelerating a clean energy transition.
General image: The generous view of these projects is that by making fossil fuel production more efficient, Microsoft is helping to reduce waste in a harmful process. The skeptical view is that making fossil fuel production more efficient makes it more profitable and therefore more attractive to oil and gas companies. Both things are likely to be true. —MD