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London — Companies routinely set targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. But a new kind of environmental target is emerging that has been likened to paying reparations to victims of past injustice. The idea is to eliminate not only current pollution but also to account for and counteract climate damage from the corporate past.

The first big company to make such a pledge was Microsoft. In January it announced plans to remove enough greenhouse gas to zero out its emissions and energy use dating back to its founding in 1975 — some 27.3-million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Now on Tuesday, Velux, a Danish maker of roof windows, pledged to eliminate carbon dioxide that matches its estimated emissions since its founding in 1941. That effort, along with a new 2030 climate goal, would allow Velux to claim “lifetime carbon neutral” status by its centenary in 2041...

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