The effects of climate change are increasingly being felt. Heatwaves, storms, droughts, fires, and floods have become stronger and more frequent. The IPCC’s 2018 Special Report estimates that the world will face catastrophic consequences if global greenhouse gas emissions are not eliminated. However, year after year, global emissions continue to rise dramatically.
The greatest challenge of mankind
According to a recent survey by the Körber Foundation, climate change is seen in Germany as by far the most urgent political task. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warns of a direct existential threat:
“The world risks crossing the point of no return on climate change, with disastrous consequences for people across the planet and the natural systems that sustain them.”
How can AI be used for climate protection?
In June 2019, 22 scientists published a paper (Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning) that details how machine learning can be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help society adapt to climate change.
Opportunities for start-ups
The report also explicitly addresses the business community. Many companies can optimize their processes and reduce resource consumption through machine learning. There is great business potential for founders:
The authors present many problems in climate protection where existing AI techniques can contribute significantly to the solution. Some recommendations do not require further research. They only need to be applied.
Sectors with the potential for AI solutions
- Electricity Systems: e.g. manage flexible energy demand
- Transportation: e.g. support ride-sharing and shuttle services
- Buildings & Cities: e.g. improve energy consumption in houses
- Industry: e.g. optimize supply chains and freight routes
- Farms & Forests: e.g. enable automated afforestation
- Carbon Dioxide Removal: e.g. optimize direct air capture (DAC)
- Climate Prediction: e.g. forecast extreme events
- Societal Impacts: e.g. improve disaster relief and food security
- Solar Geoengineering: e.g. assess impacts of geoengineering
- Individual Action: e.g. understand personal carbon footprints
- Education: e.g. develop personalized education tools
- Finance: e.g. predict the financial effects of climate change
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. In recent years, the technologies and applications of AI have made enormous progress. Many technologies are already available and can be used for highly effective solutions against the pressing problems of climate protection.
There is currently great business potential for entrepreneurs who want to make a difference.