Microsoft Forges Massive Deal with Carbon Removal Startup to Remove 1.5 Million Tons of Carbon

Nick Terran
By Nick Terran

In a monumental stride towards carbon neutrality, Microsoft has entered into a monumental nature-based carbon removal offtake agreement with Mombak, a pioneering carbon removal startup. This global agreement marks one of the largest nature-based deals ever, with Mombak set to provide Microsoft with up to an impressive 1.5 million carbon removal credits, sourced from its ambitious reforestation initiatives nestled within the Brazilian Amazon.

Established in 2021, Mombak, headquartered in Brazil, has firmly set its sights on the realm of large-scale carbon removal ventures, commencing with an ambitious endeavor: the native, biodiverse reforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Mombak’s unique approach targets the sequestration of carbon through expansive reforestation efforts aimed at revitalizing degraded and unproductive pastureland. 

These initiatives employ native tree species and assisted natural regeneration, delivering a cascade of co-benefits such as the reversal of biodiversity loss, the enhancement of watershed assets, and the generation of employment opportunities and social impact within local communities.

According to Mombak, this groundbreaking agreement will enable the restoration of approximately 25 forests within deforested regions of the Brazilian Amazon biome. These revitalized landscapes will house no fewer than 30 million trees, comprising over 100 native Brazilian species, including several on the brink of extinction.

Just How Much Is 1.5 Million Tons of Carbon?

    • The total emissions generated by a fleet of 300,000 average cars over the course of a year.
    • All the energy consumption of roughly 170,000 average American homes annually.
    • The carbon footprint of more than 5,000 lifetimes of extensive air travel.
    • Flying around the globe in a commercial airplane over 36,000 times.
    • It would take 60 million trees over a year to absorb that much carbon, which is roughly the number of trees you’d find in a forest larger than New York City’s Central Park.

Microsoft is confident that this visionary project has the potential to eliminate a staggering 1.5 million tons of carbon emissions by breathing new life into degraded Brazilian pastureland, utilizing native tree species that enhance biodiversity.

Peter Fernandez, CEO of Mombak, expressed the significance of this partnership by saying, “Microsoft and Mombak both want to contribute to scaling a high-integrity carbon removal market. Reforesting the Amazon currently represents the world’s largest carbon removal opportunity. It also enriches biodiversity, creates quality jobs in marginalized areas, and helps avoid the Amazon tipping point. Our relationship with Microsoft reinforces the importance of this critical work.”

Peter Fernandez

This agreement adds to Microsoft’s expanding portfolio of carbon removal deals, aligning with the company’s ambitious commitment to achieve carbon negativity by 2030 and the removal of all historical emissions by 2050. Earlier in the year, Microsoft inked one of the largest Direct Air Capture (DAC) carbon removal agreements with DAC technology firm Heirloom. 

Additionally, the tech giant recently unveiled DAC-based pacts with climate technology firm CarbonCapture, startup Climeworks, an ocean-based carbon dioxide removal accord with ocean health company Running Tide, a deal for the procurement of 2.76 million tons of carbon removal with Danish energy provider Ørsted, aimed at capturing and storing biogenic carbon from a wood chip-fired power station in Denmark. 

And, not to be overlooked, is Microsoft’s recent agreement with carbon credit streaming firm Carbon Streaming, securing up to 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide removal credits per annum from its U.S.-based biochar project.

Brian Marrs, Senior Director of Energy and Carbon Removal at Microsoft, spoke on the importance of investing in projects with substantial social and environmental benefits, stating, “As Microsoft continues our work to become carbon negative by 2030, it is important that we invest in scalable, high-quality projects like this, with Mombak, that come with significant social and environmental co-benefits.”

This shrewdly-timed announcement coincided with Microsoft’s announcement at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, where it proudly disclosed that it had already fulfilled its commitment to contract for a minimum of $200 million in durable and scalable net carbon dioxide removal (CDR) by the close of 2030. The trillion-dollar tech giant first made the commitment as part of its First Movers Coalition entry in 2022.

In a social media proclamation heralding this groundbreaking agreement, Melanie Nakagawa, Chief Sustainability Officer at Microsoft, emphasized the enduring role of nature-based solutions in the pursuit of a balanced carbon removal portfolio, exclaiming, “Nature-based solutions will continue to play a role in a balanced carbon removal portfolio. We’re excited to be working with MOMBAK on our largest nature-based project to date in the Brazilian Amazon!”

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