Background - 27 April, 2010

Summary 29/100

Microsoft’s ranking changed most dramatically compared to the last Leaderboard, falling five places from 7th to 12th. While its net score is only slightly lower, the drop in ranking can be attributed to significant improvement by other brands, and the assessment of a negative lobbying penalty for its membership in Business Europe. Despite some improvements, Microsoft’s climate leadership remains weak across the board, but most obviously under policy advocacy, which appears to be reflective of tone set at the top of the organization. Former CEO Bill Gates at least seems to understand the need big changes in our energy system, but Microsoft’s current CEO, Steve Ballmer, does not appear to attribute providing energy solutions to Microsoft’s core business. Tansformational thinking and leadership is needed from Microsoft, one of the world’s largest and most politically powerful software companies.


Climate Solutions


Current Savings Calculations


Microsoft has several examples of software solutions that could reduce the energy consumption of its customers. Microsoft’s Hohm energy management software and partnership with Ford Motor Company has significant potential to drive behavior change by empowering homeowners and electric vehicle owners to better manage their electric consumption, but better quantification of the current and potential impacts of this and Microsoft’s other software solutions are needed.

Public Metrics


Microsoft scores points for the energy savings and economy-wide GHG reductions potential of its digital music and digital software distribution. New points were awarded to Microsoft for the release of a recent report analyzing the difference in energy consumption between on-premise versus hosted (cloud) applications. This is a welcomed attempt by Microsoft to calculate the energy use and GHG emissions of its software solutions, but much greater transparency is still needed in this rapidly growing area.



No applicable investment scored.

Future Savings Goal


No future savings goal for solutions.


Energy Impact


Reduction Target


Microsoft scores the bare minimum here due to its lack of an absolute reduction goal, opting instead for an intensity target that will only slow its growth in total emissions. Microsoft does get higher credit for greater transparency on its energy and emissions footprint than rival Google, but more effort is needed to provide credibility to its recently released report on cloud computing.



Microsoft has put forward a more developed mitigation plan, including the amount of renewable energy it sources and is working to take responsibility for its supply chain emissions, but it is still far from best in class.

Infrastructure Siting


Microsoft has made some significant data center investments located near significant renewable electricity supplies. However, there does not appear to be any policy guiding these investments in a consistent fashion, as evidenced by Microsoft’s recent announcement to construct a new data center in the coal-heavy state of Virginia in the United States.

Supply Chain Footprint


N/A (10 Points scored under Infrastructure)


Political Advocacy




Microsoft earn minimal points for stated support on its website of a binding global greenhouse gas reduction target of 80% by 2050. While a relevant benchmark, declaring support for near-term reductions and measures before senior government decision-makers, such as the EU’s 30% target, is what is needed.

Political Policy


On December 15, 2009, Microsoft urged President Obama to reach an agreement at the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, and also joined call for a UK Green Investment Bank. But with the biggest IT lobbying teams on the planet, and Steve Ballmer visiting the White House 12 times in 2010 alone, Microsoft is clearly punching below its weight in pushing for a clean energy economy.

Repetition Bonus


Microsoft gets repetition points for two additional examples of advocacy, a keynote address by Steve Ballmer at the Consumer Electronics Show and support for the Clean Energy Deployment Agency.

Negative Lobby Penalty


Microsoft receives a penalty for membership of the Corporate Advisory group of Business Europe, which actively opposes the European Union’s proposed greenhouse gas reduction target of 30% by 2020.

Microsoft's scores to date

Leaderboard Score
Version 1 7
Version 2 23
Version 3 31
Version 4 29