Yesterday, at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum, (former) President Bill Clinton launched the Microsoft & Clinton Climate Initiative joint effort, Project 2°, to save the cities of the world from ravages of climate change. Microsoft have developed a tool to help city Administrators assemble an inventory of their CO2 emissions and model planning scenarios to reduce impact. The idea is to roll this out to the 40 city administrations world wide already cooperating with the Clinton Climate Initiative. The tool has been on the go since the latter half of last year and yesterday's event was created for the purposes of a press launch and to mark the release of a demo site for the tool which you can view here. Of the forty cities associated with the Clinton Climate Initiative four have signed up to use the Microsoft gratis offer: Syndey, Chicago, Houston and Rotterdam.
Bill Clinton reckons that cities account for nearly 75% of man made greenhouse emissions so the opportunity on the surface it appears to be interesting. The challenge Microsoft will share with the city Administrators is to, not only automate the business processes within city administrations to collect the date from direct operations, but also to extend coverage to the city inhabitants and private business. Nevertheless, an interesting consequence of the pilot might well be to spur a review of tax and incentive schemes from local authorities. It will be interesting to see how Houston, Sydney, Chicago and Rotterdam get on.
Microsoft has really set pace on the environment with announcements over the last month or so including: the release of an Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics aimed for use by midsize companies, a strategic partnership with UNEP and a 30% reduction of CO2 per unit of revenue target.
The partnership with UNEP focuses on six major themes: climate change, disasters & conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances & hazardous waste & resource efficiency.
Microsoft are offering the environmental dashboard as a free component in their Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 release and is capable of tracking energy burn and green house Gas emissions. It is interesting to see Microsoft see this type of functionality as a give away in terms of pricing strategy. Hopefully this does not indicate that Microsoft sees product development in this area as something of a philanthropic hobby. I suspect in times to come both Microsoft and their customers will respectively offer and pay premium for enhanced capability in environmental information management.