Symposium on AI and Climate Action kicks off at Tsinghua University
Apr 29, 2022Author:
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By Song Ping and Luan Ruiying | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-04-29


The healthy development of AI can better serve the community of life for man and nature said global experts at the Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Climate Action on April 26, 2022.[Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The symposium hosted by the Institute for AI International Governance of Tsinghua University, with the United Nations Development Programme as the supporting international organization, convened thought leaders and practitioners across the world.

Erik Solheim, former United Nations under-secretary-general and former executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said that climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing humanity. "While we are on the path of going green, we are not acting fast enough and urgent enough. It is therefore crucial to step up our efforts in tackling climate issues with AI," he said.

With the rapid growth of computing power and data volume, in recent years, AI has fueled major breakthroughs with the potential to help combat the climate crisis, and far-reaching consequences for economies and societies.

Gong Ke, academic member of I-AIIG and executive director of the Chinese Institute for New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Strategies, stressed that mitigation and adaptation are the two pathways to addressing climate change. In terms of mitigation, AI is being used as an essential tool for energy transition to improve electricity storage and optimize the deployment of renewable energy. For adaptation, AI is being successfully used to improve the resilience of infrastructure and to provide early warning," he explained.

Kameshwar Polla, distinguished professor at UC Berkeley, said that technology should be integrated with the market in order to achieve better climate outcomes. "AI can be used to predict consumer behavior, mitigate climate change with smart grids, and achieve better payment for infrastructure," he said.

Wendell Wallach, I-AIIG academic member and Carnegie-Uehiro fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, said there are ethical concerns about AI for climate action, and we must prevent the malicious use of AI.

During the symposium, to promote AI development to efficiently address climate change, Zeng Yi, director of International Research Center for AI Ethics and Governance at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the chief scientist of I-AIIG, released the Principles on AI for Climate Action, which is co-sponsored by the International Research Center for AI Ethics and Governance in partnerships with I-AIIG and 10 other institutions.

As highlighted in the Principles, addressing global climate change is essential for the sustainable future of humanity and ecology. The Principles starts with a six-point proposal on values and principles: for human and ecology good; energy conservation; privacy protection; fairness and justice; promoting education, training and employment; sharing and cooperation.

Seven recommendations for AI-powered climate action are also put forward in the Principles: facilitating climate analysis and forecasting; promoting energy conservation; contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions; promoting greenhouse gas absorption and carbon storage; reducing the harm caused by climate change; empowering the development of energy systems; contributing to the establishment of market mechanisms and policies conducive to the control of climate change.

Christoph Lutge, academic member of I-AIIG and director of the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence at Technical University of Munich, reflected on the Principles that "AI has a tremendous potential role to play in humanity's response to climate change. In order to promote the most positive impact, AI ethics will have to be at the top of the agenda as well".

The symposium included multiple panel discussions on a wide range of topics related to AI and climate action, including how AI can empower climate action, AI and net-zero cities, and AI and sustainable energy. It attracted more than 300 registered online and offline participants and the live broadcast of the events reached 200,000 views.