Apr 26, 2024

AI: A powerful ally in the fight against climate change

Abhishek Kumar, PGDM 2023-25  

Climate change, which was a farfetched threat, is now becoming an urgent reality. The effects of climate change can be seen very vividly, starting from the melting of glaciers due to increasing temperatures to untimely rain and rising ocean acidity, which affects marine life. The effects are extended to food security as crop growth is hampered by changing climates, endangering the world’s population. The financial toll of neglecting climate change grows ever clearer: a 2022 BCG report predicts a staggering $3.2 trillion annual cost by 2030, and inaction could displace 216 million people globally by 2050, ultimately costing a mind-boggling $178 trillion by 2100. These figures clearly show how ecological imbalance is created, and failing to act won’t just harm the planet. It will cripple economies and force millions from their homes. Thus, it is an area of grave concern to look into the immediate course of action to take to control the situation. Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerges as a potent ally in this battle for a sustainable future, with the potential to completely transform climate solutions.

Predictive modelling and early warnings are two of AI’s most important applications. Artificial intelligence can help in predicting by getting trained by the tons of data available, thus helping in predicting any natural disaster. This will help to save lives and reduce damage. For instance, a farmer can get information about an upcoming drought and change crops according to that or place being evacuated beforehand of a flood or high alert area for any disaster. This can be a big relief for people on the verge of suffering because of climate change.

AI is essential for energy efficiency and the advancement of renewable energy sources, in addition to emergency preparedness. AI’s analytical powers can unlock significant efficiency gains in everything from building design that minimises energy consumption to managing the complex flow of renewable energy grids. Imagine intelligent grids that smoothly integrate renewable energy sources like solar and wind power or buildings that automatically adjust their heating and cooling based on real-time weather data. AI has the potential to enable clean, sustainable energy in the future.

AI’s impact is not limited to the data collection or decision-making process but also extends to the surroundings in which we carry out our daily lives. AI-based “smart cities” are the places of the future where intelligent urban areas become eco-friendly hubs. Design smart traffic control systems, which include not only merging or executing roads that facilitate traffic flow but also lessen emissions. Alternatively, waste management systems that individually identify and collect trash. AI-characterised urban design can lead toward sustainable, active cities.

Nevertheless, AI is not only creative but also far more than that. AI facilitates us in getting over carbon emissions from multiple sources, defining issues requiring improvement, and developing carbon emission mitigation strategies. Think of industries using online monitoring for emissions in the report for a fast response and accountability. The global initiative for neutralising carbon could be institution built around the tracking of AI-based carbon.

AI also serves an essential role in the emergence and recovery from natural disasters. AI can swiftly evaluate destruction and trace back pockets that need assistance by using drone videos and satellite imagery for analysis. For example, think of perishables being sent to the most vulnerable communities or fast-acting search and rescue teams deployed to the most crucial areas. Subsequently, after a catastrophe, AI can commence rescue activities to improve the treatment process.

Despite the complexity and difficulties, harvesting the emerging intelligent and climate change solutions seems to have begun to show through the clouds. The AI-immersed system in Bangladesh helps inhabitants escape from floods as it warns with great precision. In other words, the DeepMind of Google, however, applies AI to strive to achieve efficient wind turbine output and create wide access to clean energy.

With the rainy forests of Costa Rica and the unparalleled plane of Kenya showing the way, AI is seeing solutions that only emerged green. In Costa Rica, Rainforest Connection employs AI-based devices that can decipher silvery notes of illegal logging early on, moving to the defence and struggling against the agents who illegally chop down trees, the rangers, instantly. Which not only protects a variety of animal and plant species but also safeguards about 40 million hectares of rainforests. Furthermore, the case of the Kenya WeeForest is admirable. Specifically, the application of AI will identify degraded soils from satellite images, so volunteers, and also corporations will be mobilised to fund tree-planting initiatives. Using drones as well as AI to supervise that trend and impact, WeeForest has already planted about 20 million trees over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, thereby restoring landscapes as well as empowering communities, on the one hand and evidence of AI power in terms of advancing the environmental agenda, on the other.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has tremendous potential to help humanity fight against the effects of climate change, but at the same time, some formidable barriers exist to overcome. Growth and competence don’t come cheap to every location. Besides that, there were cases of biased or false data, which can lead to mistaken predictions and make inequality worse. Transparency and trust are obstructed by the same models’ “black box” manner. One more hurdle that comes along with the use of artificial intelligence in surveillance is privacy-related concerns. Hence, responsible Artificial Intelligence research and use have to be enforced, requiring transparency, accountability, and moral applications.

But to tackle these challenges the open source initiative and bias detection techniques are being developed. Explainable AI (XAI) strives to make models more transparent, building trust. Organisations such as WRI and UNEP use AI technology to monitor renewable energy and deforestation. Therefore, through recognition of these constraints and seeking ways to alleviate them, we can use AI as a tool to develop a sustainable future where all will enjoy the benefits of this development equitably.

The potential of AI in bringing people, communities, and governments together to combat the climate crisis, which calls for cooperation, is immense. Conceive of people playing that kind of interactive games motivates them to make environmentally friendly decisions or have access to individual AI assistants that help them monitor how much carbon footprint they emit. Communities may have people participating more effectively in solutions by using AI systems to assess climate risk at the local level and implement climate-proof infrastructure. Artificial intelligence-guided participatory budgeting and hyperlocal risk assessments are aimed at channelling resources and community-driven projects to involve the residents.

Moreover, lawmakers are in a position to apply AI technology. The efficacy of the multiple policies is predicted by simulations, which produce evidence-based decisions based on data and analysis. Real-time AI-powered monitoring allows managers to react to changing circumstances quickly. Stay updated by following the One Global AI for Climate Change Alliance, UN agency materials, and COP28 links. It’s not only about data points but also about individuals becoming empowered and uniting communities for this common cause, backed up by the intelligence of AI, which serves as a bulwark against climate change.

In summary, artificial intelligence (AI) is a technological wonder but also a ray of hope in the fight against climate change. We can pave the way for a sustainable future if we accept its potential and use it wisely. Let’s utilise AI to its full potential for the benefit of everyone on the planet, not just ourselves. Together, we can build a brighter future where AI becomes an invaluable ally in our fight for a sustainable tomorrow.


87% of Climate and AI Leaders Believe That AI Is Critical in the Fight Against Climate Change. (n.d.). BCG Global. https://www.bcg.com/press/7july2022-ai-is-critical-in-fight-against-climate-change

IPCC — Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (n.d.). IPCC. https://www.ipcc.ch/

Rainforest Connection – Stopping Illegal Logging & Protecting Wildlife. (n.d.). https://rfcx.org/

Thorn, J. (2021, December 14). Explainable Artificial Intelligence – Towards Data Science. Medium. https://towardsdatascience.com/explainable-artificial-intelligence-14944563cc79

Metz, C. (2021, July 1). Using A.I. to Find Bias in A.I. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/30/technology/artificial-intelligence-bias.html

Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action: an initiative by the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism | Climate Technology Centre & Network | Tue, 05/09/2023. (2023, May 9). https://www.ctc-n.org/news/artificial-intelligence-climate-action-artificial-intelligence-climate-action-initiative

AppLy Now