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Climate and AI

The increasing role of artificial intelligence in various fields is bringing drastic revolutions to solve many problems. The entire world has come together to collaborate on numerous AI-led projects, maximizing their benefits.

‘AI Innovation Grand Challenge’ was launched as part of a high-level event of COP28 organized by the UN Climate Change Technology Mechanism in collaboration with the COP28 presidency. The aim was to explore and target AI-driven climate solutions in developed and developing countries.

Many efforts to combat climate change through mitigation and adaptation can be accelerated with the application of AI technologies. According to UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell “We are seeing increasing evidence that artificial intelligence can prove an invaluable instrument in tackling climate change.”

AI can be used in many ways to reduce the negative impacts of climate change. The use of AI in early warning systems is already playing an important role. Advance information about extreme weather conditions like heatwaves, heavy rains, and glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF) can help communities at the grassroots level to better brace themselves for any climate-led disaster.

Similarly, AI-powered technologies can also help improve food security and supply chains which can be threatened as a result of climate-led disasters. The agriculture sector contributes a huge chunk of global carbon emissions. AI technologies can help monitor emissions produced by different crops in the agriculture sector, and the usage of fertilizers can be improvised to have better crop yield and reduce carbon emissions.

Similarly, now AI can warn of an early hot summer in a particular year, and farmers can make timely decisions to sow a crop that can produce better yield according to that particular period. AI technology can be used to send alerts in advance about heavy rains, helping farmers to timely harvest their crops to protect them from expected flooding.

AI can play an important role in measuring and quantifying the overall carbon emissions produced by any country. The capability of AI to process big data and produce results can be useful to fix carbon credits and accountability on states. AI grids can optimize demand and supply of energy requirements efficiently.

AI can also support in health systems during and after any disaster caused by climate change. For example, floods are followed by many water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, malaria, etc. The affected population can get basic advice and prescriptions on common diseases through telehealth and ‘AI doctors’.

AI doctors can diagnose simple diseases through the symptoms mentioned by the patients and prescribe medicines and precautionary measures accordingly. It can also help cover the shortage of medical staff in climate-affected areas, which is a common challenge in emergencies; mapping in areas of glacier melting can help to rescue local communities timely from glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF).

AI-powered health systems can also help in collecting data about the spread of diseases and patients due to a climate change catastrophe to provide a direction to government-led relief efforts. Similarly, the application of AI in education is very useful, especially after climate-led disasters when the infrastructure of the education system is demolished. Moreover, AI technology can be used to create mass awareness about climate change and its negative impacts.

Now public service messages on climate change can be filmed through virtual characters and outreach can be monitored through the power of AI. Overall, AI can facilitate nations to take expedited steps to reduce climate change impacts through coordinated efforts in the right direction.

To best utilize AI technologies, nations need to incorporate AI-related strategies in their national policies. According to UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications HE Omar Sultan Al Olama: “Harnessing artificial intelligence as a strategic asset to mitigate climate change involves integrating it into national policies and plans.

It is also important that developed nations transfer financial and technical support to developing and climate-hit nations to develop their capacity to utilize AI technologies to fight climate change. Otherwise, AI technological advancement has the potential to further increase the gap in climate justice among rich and poor nations.”

AI has revolutionized the functions of the world in every field. Nations must brace themselves to benefit from the positive side of AI technologies and find solutions to challenges caused by it.

Zile Huma, "Climate and AI," The News. 2024-01-18.
Keywords: Environmental sciences , Climate change , Climate solutions , Floods , Heatwaves , Omar Sultan Al Olama , GLOF