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Business travel has been severely curtailed. CFOs have delighted in the profitability this has wrought.
And, just as many believe the pandemic may finally be passing, Microsoft has made a quiet, severe move to discourage employees from getting on a plane.
In a blog post detailing Microsoft's progress toward a sustainable world, the company's president, Brad Smith, made a startling declaration.
He said: "The Scope 3 business travel fee will increase to $100 per mtCO2e in our next fiscal year to better support the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel."
Should you not be familiar with the Scope 3 business travel fee -- and why should you be? -- this is a tax Microsoft imposes on itself in order to achieve its sustainability commitment.
Smith's statement seems uplifting. Until you learn, perhaps, that the previous fee was 576% less -- a mere $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide.
One can imagine, then, that Microsoft employees preparing to travel on business will suddenly feel disheartened at the idea that their business trips may cost far more. A fact that may incite the CFO to suggest yet another Teams meeting instead.
It's moving that Smith mentions sustainable aviation fuel. Airlines blithely insist they're waiting for the government -- a surprising idea for airlines -- to fund the largest chunk of sustainable aviation fuel development.
You might conclude that Microsoft is merely pressuring airlines to do more in their world-saving efforts.
However, the short-term effect may be to further stymie what many Microsoft employees would consider a return to normal.
Times have changed. Travel will become more expensive anyway.
Oh, and by the way, Microsoft says it'll be increasing its self-imposed carbon tax "at an accelerated rate."
Let's hope it also increases Teams functionality at an accelerated rate.
The real world just isn't the same through software's video eyes.