The Rise of AI: A Game-Changer for Climate Action - Pager Power
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The Rise of AI: A Game-Changer for Climate Action

The Rise of AI: A Game-Changer for Climate Action
March 7, 2024 Gabby Rush

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that enables computers and digital devices to learn, read, write, talk, see, create, play, analyse, make recommendations, and generally do things that humans have learned over aeons of years. It has been controversial due to its potential impact on society and the workforce [1].

There is much speculation about the potential uses of AI. Still, one area where it can have a significant impact is in contributing towards climate resilience and the development of low-emissions technologies.

AI climate action

Figure 1: AI vs Human Illustration by Gabby Rush.

AI to the Rescue: Ways It Can Help Tackle Climate Change

The United Nations Climate Change Initiative on Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action (#AIClimateAction), explores AI’s potential as a powerful tool to advance and scale up transformative climate action in developing countries. This initiative is looking at various tools that can be used to tackle climate change, such as:

  • AI-powered models that can provide early warning systems to alert communities about impending disasters. For example, the Be-Resilient project in South Africa uses AI to predict flooding patterns in Mozambique.
  • AI can optimise agrifood systems and crop management by predicting the best planting times, assessing soil health, and monitoring pest and disease outbreaks.
  • AI algorithms can improve the efficiency and reliability of renewable energy systems by predicting energy demand, optimising grid operations, integrating renewable energy sources seamlessly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting a shift towards low-emission energy solutions. One example is the Global Renewables Watch, which uses AI and satellite imagery to map and measure utility-scale solar and wind installations, allowing users to evaluate clean energy transition progress and track trends over time [2].
  • Existing applications of AI systems include weather prediction, iceberg tracking, and identification of pollution [3].

The World Health Organisation has reported that approximately 4 billion people currently reside in regions at a higher risk of being affected by climate change. This is expected to result in around 250,000 additional deaths each year between 2030 and 2050 due to undernourishment, malaria, and heat stress alone [3].

Climate’s AI Deal: Concluding Thoughts on AI for Climate Future

In the battle against climate change, AI emerges as a powerful ally, helping us decipher complex climate data and predict future changes. By merging technology with environmental science, we may find new paths towards managing climate challenges, ensuring a sustainable future for all. 

One of the concerns surrounding the use of AI for climate is, as it grows, how it can be governed. During the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, business leaders discussed AI. Sam from OpenAI raised his concerns on this topic. 

“It’s a good sign that even at AI’s current, extremely limited capability levels, lots of people have found ways to get value out of it and also understand the limitations…There’s a harder question than the technical one, which is who gets to decide what the values (governing AI) are. That’s a big societal question.” said Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI.

Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, also commented on the subject.

“AI will create a lot of new jobs, but you won’t be able to take the current people and put them in these jobs unless governments and companies partner together on reskilling.”

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