The Ultimate Guide to Carbon Neutrality with AI: Top 7 Strategies
Apocalyptic fires, unexpected droughts, plastic oceans, storms, and unannounced floods. Global warming is an urgent matter and any form of negligence is likely to worsen the situation. Did you know that an analysis by IEA indicated that in 2021, the global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were 36 billion tons, which is, by all means, a horrific number?
Truth be told, every minute, we are inching toward a very volatile climate change situation, and slowing things down is the only option. But honestly, do we have the luxury to spare any time? No, but, we do have a silver bullet called artificial intelligence that can equip us to better control the situation.
Power generation, heavy industry, cars, and other similar things are not the only contributors, but major tech companies like Amazon, and Meta, are also responsible for releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
AI is expected to help organizations in a variety of sectors, including consumer goods, retail, automotive, and more, achieve up to 45% of the Paris Agreement targets by 2030, according to Capgemini Research Institute modelling. AI is probably going to cut GHG emissions by 16%.
In this post, we are exploring some of the most promising ways artificial intelligence is already influencing climate change policy or could do so in the future. Before we get there, let’s quickly define carbon neutrality.
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon neutrality can be defined as the process of balancing a specific amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount neutralized. It is also referred to as having a net zero carbon footprint.
All global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be offset by carbon sequestration in order to reach net zero emissions. The procedure of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and later storing it is known as carbon sequestration.
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Businesses Exploring Ways to Achieve Carbon Neutrality
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (Honda) and POSCO Holdings Inc. (POSCO) declared today that they have started looking into a comprehensive alliance to achieve carbon neutrality. The two businesses came to this agreement because they thought it was essential to take advantage of each other’s strengths—such as environmental and electrification technologies—and explore potential future collaboration to advance their initiatives towards carbon neutrality.
The following important areas will be investigated for potential collaboration by the two businesses based on this agreement.
- The use of automotive steel sheets is made using a method that decreases greenhouse gas emissions and ultra-high tensile steel sheets, which helps to further reduce vehicle weight.
- The mass manufacture of drive motors for the e-Axle (electric axle drive) using an electric steel sheet.
- Technical discussion of potential battery materials.
- Increasing the use of recycled resources to create a low-carbon society.
- Creation of a closed-loop recycling system that will make use of used battery components.
How Can AI Reduce Carbon Footprints
The use of AI to combat climate change is timely given the growing ethical concerns surrounding machine learning, a data-hungry branch of the technology where computers look for patterns in existing data to make predictions and judgments.
- According to the whitepaper ‘Smart Carbon Emission Reduction, Inspire the Transformation to Green Energy’ from IDC and Baidu, artificial intelligence technology is expected to provide up to 70% of carbon emission reductions by 2060.
- From now until 2060, this will reduce carbon emissions by more than 35 billion tons. The whitepaper suggests that technology is essential for reaching carbon neutrality.
To produce ground-breaking technologies and results, AI technology must be used in a variety of industries using ICT infrastructure in conjunction with carbon-reduction technologies.
According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, the present global GHG emissions are equivalent to around 53 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2e). According to the Science-Based Targets Initiative, we must lower these emissions by 50% by the end of this decade if we want to achieve the 2016 Paris Agreement’s objective of keeping the rise in the average global temperature to 1.5°C.
Between 2.6 and 5.3 gigatons of CO2e, or 5% to 10% of the required reduction, can be attained by the use of AI.
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Let’s put it this way. How can companies reduce something which they cannot accurately measure? Here’s where AI comes into the picture. With the help of AI-powered data engineering, you can automatically track emissions throughout their carbon footprint
They can set up data collection from operations, business trips, IT equipment, and every link in the value chain, including suppliers of raw materials and components, carriers, and even downstream consumers of their goods.
System for Predictive Emission Monitoring PEMS, often referred to as an inferential analyzer, employs an empirical model to forecast emission levels based on fuel flow, load, operating pressure, and ambient air temperature. PEMS cannot directly measure emissions.
Predict & Reduce Emissions
In connection with ongoing attempts to reduce emissions, novel carbon reduction approaches, and anticipated demand, predictive AI may project future emissions across a company’s carbon footprint. As a result, they are better able to define, modify, and meet reduction targets. Using current information on carbon footprint, Predictive AI can predict future carbon emissions. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and data optimization approaches can increase production, transportation, and other sectors’ efficiency, resulting in lower carbon emissions and lower prices.
Prescriptive AI and optimization can increase manufacturing and transportation efficiency by offering insights into every step of the value chain, hence lowering carbon emissions.
In recent times, we have witnessed far too many catastrophic weather occurrences that resulted in enormous loss and destruction. AI has been used in the past and will be used to improve weather forecasting and response. Some recent weather changes were brought on by modifications to intricate systems like cloud cover and ice sheet dynamics.
However, deforestation and unsustainable agriculture release carbon into the atmosphere, whereas grasses, trees, and other plant life retain carbon.
Therefore, this has a significant impact on climate change. Conservationists can track where this is happening to affect change with the aid of satellite photography and AI.
Switching Over to New Low-Carbon Materials
9% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the manufacture of steel and cement. AI may mitigate climate change if it could create new materials with comparable features but less carbon footprint. Artificial intelligence aids scientists by speeding up and simplifying the process of combining different chemical components in previously untested combinations.
Optimizing Clean Energy Development
Hydropower dams have traditionally been built in the Amazon basin one at a time without any long-term planning.
An AI computational model was created by a team led by Cornell University that comprised ecologists, computer scientists, and researchers to discover the best locations for the hundreds of hydropower dams that are now being considered for the basin.
The AI model found a more intricate and unexpected set of factors than had ever been taken into account to reduce GHG emissions.
The transportation industry is responsible for a further 25 per cent of worldwide CO2 emissions. Autonomous vehicles, such as shared automobiles and smart transportation systems in some cities, are already powered by AI technology. Future adoption will contribute to reducing emissions. Artificial intelligence does a rather fine job of optimizing traffic lights, fleet routes, and other things. These little adjustments all add up to have a big effect on climate change.
Typically, governments, leaders, and businesses turn to Ai solutions to find ways to reduce waste. The reduction of waste in all its forms (time, money, material, etc.) is one of the main ways AI may support climate change strategies. Energy waste from buildings accounts for one-quarter of CO2 emissions; whether AI is used to reduce energy waste from buildings or comprehend supply and demand.
The Road Ahead – Brands that Have Pledged to Reduce Environmental Impact
Here are 10 companies that have pledged to reduce environmental impact and contribute towards achieving carbon neutrality.
By 2030, Apple promises that both its supply chain and its products will be completely carbon-neutral. With this new pledge, every Apple device sold by 2030 will have a net zero climate impact. The company’s global business operations are now carbon-neutral.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook strongly opines that businesses have a significant chance to contribute to the creation of a future that is more sustainable and is motivated by our shared concern for the environment.
By using recycled materials and implementing design advances in its products, Apple reduced its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tons in 2019. In the last decade, Apple has lowered the typical amount of energy required for product use by 73%.
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The Chinese e-commerce giant promised to become carbon neutral in its operations and reduce emissions throughout its transportation and supply chains by the end of the decade. Alibaba intends to implement innovative energy-saving, high-efficiency technologies, increase the usage of renewable energy sources, and investigate “carbon removal initiatives” that could remove greenhouse gases that cause global warming from the atmosphere.
Additionally, it pledged to cut by 50% by 2030 the carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon emitted per dollar of revenue, from “scope 3” emissions, which are generated throughout its larger value chain and include things like trash, waste disposal, and transportation.
Facebook’s parent company, Meta wants to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions throughout its value chain (scope 3) by 2030. With an unbending dedication to driving the renewable energy shift, Meta has already achieved 100% renewable energy for its global operations. In order to fund its activities, Meta has so far announced additional solar and wind projects totalling over 7,000 megawatts (MW).
Their climate program is in line with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and is informed by the most recent research on the steps required to make the switch to a zero-carbon future.
By improving the efficiency of our operations and continuing to use only renewable energy, we will continue to cut our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions in accordance with climate science.
Amazon is committed to sustainability because it benefits everyone: the environment, businesses, customers, and communities. As part of our commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, Amazon has set a goal to run entirely on renewable energy by 2025. At least 95% of the energy used to power AWS data centers in Oregon is renewable.
Within their offices, fulfillment centers, retail locations, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers, Amazon has already attained a global renewable energy utilization rate of over 85%.
Since 2020, Amazon has consistently been the top corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world, indicating a demand signal that also helps to boost supply.
Ford raises its climate change targets and aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. In order to achieve carbon neutrality, carbon outputs must be balanced with carbon removal. Ford will initially concentrate its efforts on three sectors that together account for almost 95% of its CO2 emissions: its supply base, the company’s facilities and its car use.
The availability of renewable, carbon-neutral electricity and renewable fuels, as well as customer acceptability, government restrictions, economic conditions, and customer perception, are among the obstacles Ford stated it is fully aware of when setting the 2050 goal.
Ford is investing over $11.5 billion in electric vehicles through 2022. Zero-emission versions of some of its most well-known nameplates are on the way, including the Mustang Mach-E, which begins to arrive in dealerships this year. A Transit Commercial EV and fully electric F-150 are also due out within 24 months. By 2035, the company expects to have all of its manufacturing facilities powered entirely by locally produced renewable energy.
The struggle with climate change is serious, unsettling, and scary in equal parts. It is imperative that brands and organizations employ innovative tools and technology like artificial intelligence to reduce carbon emissions and enhance energy efficiency.
To engineer a carbon-neutral future, brands must examine how their companies affect the environment in order to address the grave challenges posed by global warming to our planet. They should be asking the right questions about how to achieve carbon neutrality. How to imbibe more renewable energy and do away with fossil fuels. Businesses can start by analyzing and reviewing their organization’s carbon footprint and accordingly opt for carbon offsets. Another viable solution will be going digital with their business, promoting and celebrating green events and initiatives. The other simple methods, include recycling, buying environmentally friendly paper products, and choosing venues that are easily accessible by public transportation.
At the end of the day, reversing climate change is not just an easy and radical step, but also profitable in the long run. The most essential objective in the world is combating climate change; all it takes is time, commitment, and consistent leadership.
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