Tackling Climate Change in the AI Era


Climate Change is one of the biggest challenges of our time, confronting us with cascading effects if no action is taken now. Global frameworks such as the Paris Agreement illustrate the way towards a carbon-neutral future. Now is the time to deliver on climate commitments and actions. The difficult task, however, is reaching this ambitious goal. One promising solution is using AI and its applications, for example, Robotics and IoT, to push forward data-driven processes, which can be used to better understand past and present events with the goal to identify new ways to tackle climate change. AI has already disrupted many industries. Using AI in sectors such as agriculture, energy and transportation can lead to economic benefits while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. How can we tackle Climate Change with the support of AI solutions? How can this technology be leveraged to create tangible impact and pursue a transformation that creates opportunities for all? How to develop ethical and trustworthy AI systems without a large carbon footprint? This report looks into these questions and provides an understanding of the potential of AI for tackling climate change in the next 20 years. It describes trends (political and legal, economic, social and environmental, technological, business models) that explain the current and upcoming challenges of climate change, identifies potential future scenarios, and innovates new business models, ensuring a balance between sustainability, technology, and future prosperity. The generated business concepts include an urban planning and monitoring simulator, a smart control system for office energy usage, a carbon-negative beef alternative from ambient CO2, AI-powered green microgrids, and an innovative resource-efficient shower system.

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“Geopolitical Dynamics”: Geopolitical dynamics describe the scale on which political actors – including nations and supranational organizations – act and interact with regard to geographical issues such as climate change. Geopolitical dynamics go beyond mere climate-related international relations, which traditionally refer only to interactions between nations. As used here, the concept of geopolitical dynamics refers to the larger positioning, strategies, and political power of nations in the evolving environmental landscape. Geopolitical dynamics are concerned with national borders; therefore, the consequences of geopolitical dynamics most obviously involve larger political entities, but shifting geopolitical dynamics can have strong effects on individual citizens and local culture as well.

”Individual climate commitment”: Climate commitment describes how committed individuals are to taking action fighting the climate crisis. People widely acknowledge climate change, but their degree of commitment is what influences global development. Individuals' commitment heavily depends on their priorities in life, willingness to adapt, and worldview. It influences their consumption behavior and their participation in activism or elections. How many individuals commit to climate action is an important key driver, as a majority of emissions can be attributed to individual behavior. Further, climate commitment does not focus on companies or government, but on how individuals are also interlinked with legislation. It's people that elect the governments, and it's people that have to bear the consequences.

"Towards one green world" shows a possible future where most people are committed to climate action in their everyday life as well as political participation. The geopolitical landscape is highly cooperative and supranational organizations like the UN, or the EU have additional competencies such as managing CO2 budgets. While the climate crisis is mostly under control, other challenges like increased surveillance or people being dissatisfied about the restricted lifestyle arise.

“Failure of Green Colonialism” describes a scenario in which individuals display high commitment to climate action while nations only focus on themselves. Political relations between countries only occur if there is clear mutual benefit. The democracies in the global north have been able to tackle their environmental objectives due to government action and societal engagement – for now. However, the global south has accepted high emissions to make progress, accelerating global warming. The world’s population has started to notice these consequences, causing widespread civil unrest.

“A hot, isolated depression” follows a protagonist through the grim reality in the year 2042. For years, countries have prioritized own interests and people long ago lost hope to successfully reverse climate change in time. Rebecca’s life has drastically changed since her unconcerned childhood - extreme weather events and climate adaption measures are the new normal. During one of many heat waves, Rebecca is trying to cope with the various consequences of humankind’s disastrous inaction and turns towards her single biggest priority - her family.

“Falling together” describes a world that is unified and connected yet driven by mass consumption not addressing climate change. Through global cooperation, peace has spread across most parts of the world and people have unseen opportunities to work and live across the world. However, due to the unsustainable consumption, the impact of climate change with rising natural disasters is heavily influencing the daily life of people.

Business models

1. CityTwin.ai - Empowering urban planners to improve the city climate using digital twins

2. Meat.AI - Healthy, tasty and carbon negative beef alternative from ambient CO2

3. SAVEVA - Revolutionizing office energy systems

4. Verdeo - Leveraging AI for more reliable, green microgrids

5. Redrop - Shower differently

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