A new report from AI for the Planet Alliance, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and BCG GAMMA has revealed that there is a strong appetite for using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to tackle climate change, but organizations face obstacles to achieving impact at scale.
Specifically, the report, which noted that climate change will have significant impacts on environmental, social, political, and economic systems around the world, also disclosed that an 87percent of climate and AI leaders believe that AI Is critical in the fight against climate change.
According to the report, titled ‘How AI Can Be a Powerful Tool in the Fight Against Climate Change’, applying advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to climate challenges provides a vital way to make meaningful change at this critical moment.
“AI’s unique capacity to gather, complete, and interpret large, complex data sets means it can help stakeholders take a more informed and data-driven approach to combat carbon emissions and addressing climate risks,” said Hamid Maher, managing director and partner at BCG and BCG GAMMA, and a co-author of the report.
He, however, stated that most existing AI-related climate solutions are scattered, tend to be difficult to access, and lack the resources to scale. These shortcomings he argues need to change.
Based on survey results from over 1,000 executives with decision-making authority on AI or climate-change initiatives, the report finds that roughly a 40percent of organizations can envision using AI for their own climate efforts.
However, even among these experts, there is widespread agreement that significant barriers to broad adoption remain in place: 78percent of respondents cite insufficient AI expertise as an obstacle to using AI in their climate change efforts, 77percent cite limited availability of AI solutions as a roadblock and 67percent point to a lack of confidence in AI-related data and analysis.
Also commenting, Damien Gromier, founder of AI for the Planet and a co-author of the report explained that AI has a strong promise to help solve the climate crisis, but AI alone is not enough. “It depends on the will of decision-makers to act and make necessary changes—supported in part by AI and other emerging technologies,” Damien added.
Uses of AI in Combating Climate Change
- Mitigation. One of the most critical uses of AI is in the measurement, reduction, and removal of emissions and greenhouse gas (GHG) effects. More than 60% of the public- and private-sector leaders see the greatest business value for their organizations in the reduction and measurement of emissions. According to BCG, use of AI can drive reductions of 5% to 10% GHG emissions, or 2.6 to 5.3 gigatons of CO2e if applied globally.
- Adaptation and Resilience. Adapting to climate change is a critical undertaking for policymakers and the public, as it boosts resilience to the effects of both long-term climate trends and extreme weather events. AI is well suited to help project climate-related hazards, whether by improving long-term projections of localized events such as a sea-level rise or by upgrading early warning systems for extreme phenomena such as hurricanes or droughts.
- Fundamentals. AI can be used to support research and education efforts about climate change, helping stakeholders understand the risks and implications involved and encouraging them to share what they learn. These efforts support and magnify ongoing work toward mitigation and adaptation and resilience.
Need for Meaningful Support
A multitude of critical uses for AI exists in the climate change arena, but any successful AI solution must be user-friendly and readily accessible. It must offer tangible benefits to the user and provide clear recommendations that are easy to act on. AI solutions, therefore, need much more meaningful support, including access to capital investment, decision-makers, and trained practitioners.
AI for the Planet has invited all interested parties to participate in its call for solutions, with proposals in any stage of maturity (if ready for a first pilot, at a minimum) and from any sector, whether private, public, academic, or nonprofit. Support for each solution chosen will be tailored to its needs and may range from customized commercial or technical support to investor relationships and network development.