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 Microsoft says it will be carbon neutral for the first time in its upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1 — reducing its carbon emissions as much as possible and buying carbon credits to make up the difference.

It’s not uncommon for companies to commit to carbon neutrality, but Microsoft’s plan comes with a twist designed to force a shift in mindset inside the company. Microsoft says it will charge its divisions a “carbon fee” based on their own carbon emissions.

“The model of accountability is based on an internal carbon fee administered through our corporate finance department and cascaded globally to our business groups,” writes Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental officer, in a blog post. “This charge-back model will place a price on carbon and make the company’s business divisions responsible for the cost of offsetting the carbon emissions associated with their electricity use and air travel.”

In April, Microsoft said it had reduced its carbon emissions as a proportion of its revenue by 30 percent, compared with 2007 levels, reaching a goal it established three years ago. The new initiative goes further.

We’ve asked for details on the possible impact on the divisions’ profit-and-loss statements, and we’ll update this post depending on the response.

“Microsoft will be carbon neutral across all our direct operations including data centers, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings,” writes Kevin Turner, the company’s chief operating officer, in a blog post this morning. “We recognize that we are not the first company to commit to carbon neutrality, but we are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies large and small to look at what they can do to address this important issue.”

Microsoft was among the tech companies recently criticized by Greenpeace for not using enough renewable energy to power its data centers.

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