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Microsoft Workers for Climate Justice

Yesterday, a major collaboration between Microsoft, Chevron and Schlumberger, an oilfield services company, was announced. This partnership outlines Microsoft's use of "a cloud-based artificial intelligence platform to improve digital services in the oil field.” With this kind of news making headlines just 3 days before the Global Climate Strike, it's no longer possible for us to ignore Microsoft's complicity in the climate crisis.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declares 2030 as the tipping point for irreversible damage to our planet. It is imperative for industry leaders such as Microsoft to respond to this emergency as soon as possible and set an example for other tech companies. This is humanity's biggest challenge, requiring the contributions from corporations, organizations, and government to enact systemic change.

The youth have realized that climate change is a threat insurmountable by individual action and have called upon the rest of the world to support them. We must use the Global Climate Strike, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg's school strikes, as an opportunity to stand together and demand the transformation that our world needs. Doing so is not only taking responsibility for the mistakes that future generations will have to pay for but also the only viable way forward.

But first, we have to acknowledge our company's role in our warming planet.

Microsoft makes millions of dollars in profits by helping fossil fuel companies extract more oil. In this week's company-wide all-hands, our CEO, Satya Nadella, defended our contracts with Big Oil by suggesting that our technology helps them in their R&D efforts to develop sustainable energy. Yet, this is in clear contradiction to the ambitions of fossil fuel-CEOs and even other Microsoft leaders: Azure Executive Tom Keane, in discussing Microsoft's multimillion dollar contract with Chevron, asked "How can we [..] more efficiently do oil exploration? Or more efficiently do sensor management from an offshore oil rig?"

Furthermore, Microsoft struck a deal last year with Norweigen petroleum company Equinor worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" and participated in an oil and gas conference with the goal of "Empowering Oil and Gas with AI." Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a new contract with Exxon Mobil, which the company boasts to be "the industry's largest in cloud computing."

As Microsoft workers, we've been made complicit.

The Global Climate Strike is an opportunity for Microsoft to set an example as a leader in the tech industry. The company has taken many initiatives that focus on individual contributions, such as educating employees on composting, reducing waste, and making our campus carbon neutral. There are also efforts to leverage artificial intelligence to solve specific and important climate-related problems. However, given the urgency and complexity of the crisis, these actions are not enough.

If we want to make real impact, all of us need to mobilize, work together, and demand a fundamental change in Microsoft's priorities. It's clear that the tech industry is one of the main culprits behind our burning planet, both in consuming a great deal of fossil fuels through power hungry datacenters and supporting Big Oil companies. But we also have to recognize that we're equipped with so many resources that we can leverage to steer our industry and government in the right direction.

Following our mission to "Empower every person and every organization in the planet to achieve more", it is essential that we secure a planet with livable conditions for everyone. This includes victims of disaster displacement often from the Global South and Black and Brown communities who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Big Oil should not have the luxury of choosing the most convenient and profitable service. It is imperative that all tech companies stand together, denounce the usage of Cloud and AI services for non-renewable energy extraction, and work together to put an end to fossil fuel consumption.

We stand with the Amazon and Google by supporting their demands:

  • Zero emissions by 2030.
  • Zero contracts for fossil fuel companies to accelerate oil and gas extraction.
  • Zero funding for climate denying lobbyists and politicians.

We call on to Microsoft Employees to sign our pledge and join us on September 20th to demand the change we wish to see.

Signed, Microsoft Employees

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