Is AI essential in the fight against climate change?

AI can help us fight climate change by reducing emissions, improving energy efficiency, and increasing the use of renewable energy sources, finds BCG

Climate change is becoming a top priority for organisations across the globe, with mitigation, along with adaptation and resilience, considered crucial.

Efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 will be essential, and applying advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to climate challenges will provide a way to make meaningful change. 

According to a new report from the AI for the Planet Alliance, produced in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and BCG GAMMA, 87% 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. 

Are we prepared to use AI to help with sustainability efforts?

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 public- and private-sector leaders see the greatest business value for their organisations in the reduction and measurement of emissions. The report also explores how AI is well suited to help project climate-related hazards, whether by improving long-term projections of localised events such as sea-level rise or by upgrading early warning systems for extreme phenomena such as hurricanes or droughts.

"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," said Hamid Maher, managing director and partner at BCG and BCG GAMMA, and a coauthor of the report. 

The report suggests that existing AI-related climate-change solutions today are more typically scattered, difficult to access, and lacking the resources to scale. It found that roughly 40% of organisations 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: 78% of respondents cite insufficient AI expertise as an obstacle to using AI in their climate change efforts, 77% cite limited availability of AI solutions as a roadblock, and 67% point to a lack of confidence in AI-related data and analysis.

The report, entitled How AI Can Be a Powerful Tool in the Fight Against Climate Change, is based on survey results from over 1,000 executives with decision-making authority on AI or climate-change initiatives. 

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