How AI can be a powerful tool in the fight against climate change: Report

Because of the unique capacity of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to gather, complete, and interpret large, complex data sets on emissions, climate impact, and more, the technology can be used to support all stakeholders in taking a more informed and data-driven approach to combating carbon emissions and building a greener society.
Three areas of AI application are particularly relevant: 
1. Mitigation. AI can be employed to help mitigate the climate crisis through the measurement of emissions at both the macro and micro levels, through the reduction of emissions and greenhouse gas (GHG) effects, and through the removal of existing emissions from the atmosphere. In BCG’s experience, for example, AI can be used to help reduce GHG emissions by an amount equal to 5% to 10% of an organization’s carbon footprint, or a total 2.6 to 5.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) if scaled globally. 

2. Adaptation and Resilience. AI can be applied in boosting adaptation and resilience capacity, in part through improved hazard projections of regionalized long-term effects (such as sealevel rise) or extreme events (such as hurricanes or droughts). These efforts also include the management of vulnerability and exposure, by such means as developing infrastructure that minimizes the impact of climate hazards. 

3. Fundamentals. AI can also be used to bolster climate research and modeling; climate finance and analytics; and education, nudging, and behavior change (such as in the form of recommendations for environmentally friendly purchases).

This report was published by AI for the Planet, which is an alliance created by Startup Inside, with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and BCG GAMMA as knowledge partners, in collaboration with four other organizations: the AI for Good Foundation; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT).

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