How Artificial Intelligence helps fight climate change

By Prince Osuagwu

TECHDIGEST – A new report by an international body into Ecological Footprint Initiative, Planet Alliance in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and BCG GAMMA, on artificial intelligence, AI, has revealed that it can help address issues of climate change.

The report is titled: ‘How AI Can Be a Powerful Tool in the Fight against Climate Change.’

The report says that 87 percent of public and private sector leaders who oversee climate and AI topics believe that AI is a valuable asset in the fight against climate change.

This is also as BCG, Thursday, gathered media practitioners and experts across the world, including Africa, in an online meeting to brainstorm on the report and some of the activities it has taken to enhance the possibilities of AI advancing the fight against climate change.

Managing director and partner at BCG and BCG GAMMA, Mr. Hamid Maher, said based on survey results from over 1,000 executives with decision-making authority on AI or climate-change initiatives, it finds that roughly 40 percent 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.

Maher who is also the co-author of the report says: “Seventy eight percent of respondents cite insufficient AI expertise as an obstacle to using AI in their climate change efforts, 77 percent cite limited availability of AI solutions as a roadblock, and 67 percent point to a lack of confidence in AI-related data and analysis.

“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 combating carbon emissions and addressing climate risks.

“However, most existing AI-related climate solutions are scattered, tend to be difficult to access, and lack the resources to scale. These shortcomings need to change.”

Mitigation is one of the areas Maher said AI can be useful in combating climate change.

He said: “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 percent of 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 percent to 10 percent GHG emissions, or 2.6 to 5.3 gigatons of CO2e if applied globally.

He added that “adapting to climate change is a critical undertaking for policy makers and the public, as it boosts resilience to the effects of both long-term climate trends and extreme weather events.

The conclusion is that AI is well suited to help project climate-related hazards, whether by improving long-term projections of localized events such as sea-level rise or by upgrading early warning systems for extreme phenomena such as hurricanes or droughts.

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