The potential of artificial intelligence in combatting climate change
Published December 4, 2020
Close to 50% of surveyed businesses in large industries have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved efficiency through the use of artificial intelligence, according to research by the Capgemini Research Institute.
The study surveyed 400 organisations, including 800 sustainability and tech executives, in a variety of large industries, such as energy and utilities, industrial/process manufacturing, automotive, consumer products, and retail. in the past three years, 48% of those surveyed have used AI to reduce GHG emissions by 12.9%, improved power efficiency by 10.9%, and reduced waste by 11.7%.
Adoption of AI among those surveyed is on the rise, as over 53% of the organisations surveyed are embracing it to tackle climate issues and are moving past pilot projects.
The National Geographic published an article last year on what AI can do to tackle climate change, citing a paper published by leading scientists in the field of AI and machine learning. These scientists identified a number of themes where AI may play its part on thejourney towards a cleaner and healthier planet. The majority agreed AI would have the most significant impact in the areas of better climate models, showing the effects of extreme weather, and measuring where carbon is coming from.
At Alfa Energy Group, AI is seen as one of the key technology drivers that will help resolve issues related to climate change and net reduction of carbon: “To companies like ours, AI delivers a significant amount of capability when it comes to data processing, automation, and forecasting,” said Davor Radojevic, IT Director of Code Line Solutions (a subsidiary of Alfa Energy Group). “We use AI-powered tools to analyse our clients’ historical data and assist with shaping their view on their future use of energy. We are also looking into bringing AI into our collaboration tools, as well as researching how we could use AI to help clients with modelling of future consumption scenarios to facilitate more informed decisions when it comes to management of emissions, thus helping them to develop sustainability measures. The potential of AI in this field is vast, and it will be interesting to see the rate of adoption in the next few years.”
Capgemini’s research shows a majority of businesses invest less than 5% in AI technology for climate action and 37% have slowed down progress on climate issues due to COVID-19. The use of AI for climate action could potentially help businesses fulfil around 45% of their Economic Emissions Intensity targets and cut GHG emissions by 16% in the next 3-5 years.
According to Capgemini, there appears to be a lack of awareness of the potential of AI when it comes to climate, with 84% of executives looking to offset rather than use technology to reduce their carbon footprint.
Only 13% of the organisations in the study have aligned their AI capabilities with their climate visions. Most of these organisations are based in Europe and are ahead of their peers when it comes to scope 1 and 2 emissions and the application of AI in emission reduction.
The use of AI can improve energy efficiency, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and optimisation.
Capgemini analysed more than 70 uses of AI for climate action, with 10 of those emerging as having the biggest impact, such as consumption and optimisation platforms, algorithms for detecting defects/preventing failures, and leakage tracing.