Microsoft backs direct air capture player Climeworks

CALIFORNIA (Axios): Microsoft this morning disclosed investments in more climate-related companies as part of efforts to make good on its year-old pledge to become “carbon negative” by 2030.

Driving the news: One company the tech behemoth is staking is Climeworks, a firm looking to scale up deployment of direct air capture technology that removes CO2 already in the atmosphere.

The size of the investment was not disclosed. Microsoft also revealed that it’s a customer of the Swiss firm.

“Through Microsoft’s purchase of negative emissions from Climeworks, we will permanently remove 1,400 metric tons of carbon,” Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s top environmental official, said in a blog post.

Why it matters: It’s part of a growing move by deep-pocketed companies and investors to back the fledgling direct air capture sector — and pay them for carbon removal.

The volumes currently being removed are a tiny drop in the bucket, but DAC could be among the technologies that eventually join the list of meaningful tools against warming.

Another firm, Carbon Engineering, counts backers including Bill Gates, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum.

Climeworks’ other investors and customers include e-commerce heavyweight Shopify.

The big picture: The Climeworks investment is among several updates this morning from Microsoft on its climate efforts, including two other new outlays from its $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund.

It is backing the early-stage, climate-focused VC fund Congruent Ventures, as well as the foundation-backed Southeast Asia Clean Energy Facility, which Joppa notes “aims to drive market adoption of existing technologies in underfunded markets.”

By the numbers: Microsoft also tallied some of what’s happened since its pledge last January.

President Brad Smith said in a separate post that Microsoft cut its overall emissions by 6%, or roughly 730,000 metric tons.

“We have purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon from 26 projects around the world,” he said.

Bloomberg looks more at those efforts and some of their hurdles here.

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