Positioning Artificial Intelligence in climate change efforts

  • 1 Dec 2023
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by Shammah Sirima

Artificial Intelligence, in an ever-evolving technological world, can be considered the epitome of technological excellence. AI has been used in various sectors and different aspects of the normal functioning of society, such as education, agriculture and, most importantly, climate change. AI has the potential to significantly enhance our ability to understand, mitigate, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Its integration into the climate change global agenda can lead to more informed decision-making and the development of innovative solutions for a sustainable future.

AI and digital tools are pivotal in building climate-resilient systems that are more efficient, sustainable, and adaptable to climate change challenges. The use of AI can be considered a sustainable solution to the rising challenges of climate change. AI has been adopted by multiple state actors, regional organisations, and international organisations as a tool to combat climate change challenges. The use of AI can help to accelerate the energy transition by optimising savings and improving efficiency across energy-intensive sectors. AI-driven smart grids can balance supply and demand, facilitating the integration of renewables into energy systems and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.

Multiple organisations such as Climate Change AI (CCAI) and the Association for Computing Machinery have explored how AI can be a powerful tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping society adapt to a changing climate. An international organisation named Xyonix has specialised in developing AI systems and satellite tracking of carbon emissions globally. This, in turn, helps the mission to mitigate climate change by providing accurate data that would help actors in carbon capture procedures as well as carbon taxation.

The UN has been exploring ways to leverage the potential of AI to drive change and impact across their issue areas. Here are just a few:

The UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and its High-Level Committee on Programs (HLCP) established in 2020, the interagency working group on AI (IAWGAI), which is co-led by ITU and UNESCO.

The AI for Good platform, organised by ITU in partnership with 40 UN sister agencies, launched the Neural Network, an AI-powered community networking and content platform designed to help users build connections with innovators and experts. It also links innovative ideas with social impact opportunities.

ITU is working to identify gaps in UN AI-related activities to help the UN system prioritise strategic actions.

Multiple UN agencies are driving new competitions to find the best ways to advance climate action with AI. The winning entries will debut at COP28 later this week. (International Telecommunication Union- United Nations activities on Artificial Intelligence)

Two key aspects of the importance of AI in the context of climate change include:

Predictive modeling for climate change impact

AI algorithms can develop predictive models to assess the potential impacts of climate change on different regions. This includes predicting sea level rise, extreme weather events, and changes in ecosystems. Such algorithms process data and patterns very effectively, including satellite data, weather patterns, and historical climate information, and create an information system that guides key decision-makers.

Climate monitoring and early warning systems

AI-guided systems can monitor environmental changes in real-time and provide early warnings for natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.

The integration of AI in addressing climate change is a crucial and dynamic field with vast potential for positive impact. AI technologies are contributing to climate modelling, renewable energy optimisation, energy efficiency, smart grid management, carbon capture, and various aspects of climate change monitoring and mitigation. As the global community grapples with the challenges of climate change, AI provides:

  • Valuable tools for enhancing resilience.
  • Optimising resource usage.
  • Fostering more informed decision-making.

This signifies a commitment to finding innovative and effective solutions for a more sustainable and climate-resilient future. However, it is important to approach the integration of AI with ethical considerations, ensuring that these technologies are deployed responsibly and inclusively.