09.06.2022 IT Sustainability Tech

Can AI help prevent climate change effects?

As Artificial Intelligence is evolving towards helping businesses in diverse sectors, it can also be a real asset for environmental challenges. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres, among other activists, raised the alarm multiple times regarding climate change, can AI help limit its consequences?

Artificial intelligence applications in the environment sector could be multiple, from data gathering to analysis, so as to find the solutions to best prepare climate change-related effects. For instance, AI-driven technology proves useful to gather and analyze data so as to extract insights. The latter could be highly valuable for governments, businesses or other institutions, in order to make the right decisions. Hence, this could boost climate change research.

Furthermore, businesses are also under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint. The advantage of AI is its ability to “learn by experience, collective massive amounts of data from its environment, intuiting connections that humans fail to notice, and recommending appropriate actions on the basis of its conclusions”, reads a 2021 BCG study. The latter also enumerates three components to focus AI-use on:

  • Monitoring emissions: the aim here is essentially to track emissions throughout the company’s carbon footprint. AI is capable of collecting data from operations, from activities (i.e. IT equipment), from every part of the value chain, but also from satellites
  • Predicting emissions: AI can also be configured to forecast future emissions in relation to the current company’s footprint. From this, it makes possible the reduction targets achievement more accurately
  • Reducing emissions: relying on AI and optimization can drastically enable reducing both carbon footprint and costs

According to the study, Artificial Intelligence could help businesses reduce their carbon emissions up to 10%, or 5.3 gigatons of CO2e. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that investing in AI means that businesses also require high-quality training data.

Clearly, these innovations can easily be applied in any sector, and therefore help improve practices so as to prevent as much as possible climate change effects. It is nevertheless important to note that AI is not perfect and “inherit the value systems and priorities associated explicitly or implicitly with the date they’re given and the problems they’re meant to solve”, Climate Change AI Co-Founder & Chair Priya Donti declared in a recent interview. Although Artificial Intelligence devices are far from perfect, their usefulness in research cannot be denied, as they help analyze and monitor precious data.