This corporate PR news made zero headlines in the press but we could not be more excited about it. Yet, this unassuming group of executives pursuing their own corporate objectives, could well have an enormous impact on the future of the whole planet. The agreement they reached and announced in a joint press release, involving the planned procurement by Microsoft of Clean Energy Credits (CECs) from OPG, may be the first-ever voluntary corporate purchase of a carbon-credit from nuclear energy.
This auspicious moment deserves more attention than it received, as it marks the inclusion of nuclear energy for the first time as a source of carbon credits. Up until now, for no reason other than possibly concerns about public perception, carbon credit purchases (which are an entirely voluntary type of corporate greenwashing) have come solely from purchasing rights to claim credit for new renewable energy generation and activities like reforestation or rainforest preservation. As far as we know, no company has elected to purchase clean energy credits from nuclear energy.
This ground-breaking agreement could well serve as a model for many other companies seeking truly meaningful ways to reduce their actual and ongoing carbon impacts and the team involved in the deal is clearly aware that they are setting a new precedent. The press release included the following three quotes from Ken Hartwick, President and CEO of OPG, Chris Barry, President of Microsoft Canada, and Todd Smith, Canada’s Minister or Energy:
“This innovative partnership will not only spur economic development in Ontario, but also serve as a model for other companies and jurisdictions to encourage use of clean hydro and nuclear power,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG President and CEO. “As part of OPG’s Climate Change Plan, we committed to achieving net zero as a company by 2040, and to act as a catalyst for efficient economy-wide decarbonization. Ensuring industry has access to clean energy to offset emissions assists in meeting that goal.”
“We can only address climate change by tackling the challenge collectively. Agreements like this one with OPG will help Microsoft move closer to achieving our sustainability commitments, including our goal of having 100 percent of our electricity consumption, 100 percent of the time, matched by zero carbon energy purchases by 2030.” said Chris Barry, President, Microsoft Canada. “Working closely with like-minded organizations like OPG, will help us move toward a more sustainable future, while continuing to power innovation in Ontario.”
“As environmental goals increasingly influence corporate decisions on where to invest and grow, this partnership between OPG and Microsoft illustrates the potential for Ontario’s Clean Energy Credit registry to draw businesses from across the world to our province,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “This voluntary registry will incentivize investments in new clean energy generation and technological innovation while reducing costs for ratepayers.”