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Tuesday’s State of the Union address has dominated environmental news coverage this week following President Obama’s commitment to aggressively combat climate change in his second term with investments in renewable energy and a renewed focus on boosting energy efficiency in buildings. Some other news stories this week shed light on approaches to combatting climate change, including the role of renewable energy, which received attention in a new factbook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and how IT is behind some of the globe’s smart cities.
Last week I sat down with my colleague TJ DiCaprio, a senior director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft and the chief architect of our internal carbon fee. Over the last six months, we’ve received lots of questions about how things are going, what we’ve learned and what’s next. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation that touches on how the company is responding to an internal price on carbon and some of these investments we’re looking at making in 2013, such as power purchase agreements for renewable energy. Look for both TJ and I at the upcoming Greenbiz Forum – TJ will be speaking in NY on February 20th, and I will be in San Francisco on February 27th. Come say hi!
At Microsoft we’re firm believers in the power of technology to address sustainability challenges, whether that’s by making cities smarter or enhancing efforts in energy efficiency. Smart cities were front and center in SmartPlanet, which cited a report that the collective ‘smart city industry’ could be poised for threefold growth by decade’s end. Meanwhile, the New York Times Green Blog asked how the Obama Administration will tackle climate change in the next four years by covering a guide released by the World Resources Institute.
Microsoft plays an important role as a board member company of The Green Grid, the premier global organization focused on improving resource efficiency in information technology and data centers. As such, I’d like to encourage you to attend The Green Grid Forum 2013on March 5-6 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
This conference will feature 30+ sessions on financial and operational efficiencies, the value of collaborative regulatory activity, the opportunities and challenges of big data, and software and IT efficiencies. This includes topics such as carbon regulation and taxation, the data center maturity model, the human face of big data, member case studies, etc. Plus, there will be many opportunities to network with data center resource efficiency experts.
Today Microsoft is announcing a public-private collaboration that will deliver low-cost, off-the-grid wireless broadband access to previously unserved locations in rural Kenya—and will do it with the help of solar power.
To deliver broadband to rural locations, the project taps into unused portions of wireless spectrum in the television frequency band—it turns out these so-called “white spaces” are a perfect fit for broadband. Microsoft is delivering broadband access—which will serve a healthcare clinic, schools, a library, and government offices—in collaboration with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications, Kenyan internet service provider Indigo and U.S.-based wireless startup Adaptrum. The project will provide wireless broadband to more than 6,000 people who currently don’t have online access. It’s all part of a broad effort called the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative unveiled today, which you can read more about here.