India Inc On AI/ML Solutions To Tackle Climate Crisis

“AI helps reduce emissions by applying ML vision, aids in calculating CO2 footprint for everything we do, measures energy consumption across the world and the resulting emissions”

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Madhusudhan Anand, Ambee

According to a climate update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), there is a 40% chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level in the next five years.

“This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably and inexorably closer to the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It is yet another wakeup call that the world needs to fast-track commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

India is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and accounts for 6.8% of the total global emissions.

Image Credits: WMO

Last March, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country is on track to achieving its climate goals before the target date as it switches over to energy-efficient mediums and uses waste to generate energy.

“AI and IoT are among the top emerging technologies that can help fight climate change. AI represents the analytics engine, while IoT is responsible for collecting data through sensors. Together, these technologies are an answer to disaster management – prediction of tropical cyclones, landslides, earthquakes, and other natural calamities. The duo can accelerate disaster response by alarming local governments in advance so that they can take the necessary action as well as aid post-disaster recovery by alerting rescue workers with real-time information, said Sukanya Mandal, Member, IEEE.

According to Madhusudhan Anand, CTO & Co-Founder, Ambee, technology can aid in better measurement, identify sources of pollution, develop policies, forecast, predict, and apply logic to problem-solving. It can also provide elaborate opportunities for organisations and governments to optimise their operations and reduce their impact. “AI is at the core of tackling climate change. Earth observatory data is growing exponentially, generating terabytes of data every hour through satellites and on-ground sensors. This data is crucial in mitigating the risks posed by climate change. Wherever there is essential data, AI is the go-to technology available to humankind,” he added.

Sivakumar Ramamurthy, CEO, Anunta Tech, believes Covid-19 induced “new normal” has re-emphasised greater attention to ensure sustainable business operations. “We strongly believe that DaaS (Desktop-as-a-service) is quickly emerging as a modern, scalable, and high-performance workplace solution in the new normal by providing business continuity and, at the same time, reducing carbon emission. This results in the overall carbon footprint reduction and contributes to a greener workplace environment,” he said.

Hrishikesh Huilgolkar, CEO, Razor Network, believes blockchain has opened up new possibilities to combat climate change efficiently. The technology can improve transparency, accountability and traceability of greenhouse emissions in real-time. These smart contracts driven blockchain systems can bring together all the stakeholders across the globe – be it government bodies, industries and even individuals to work alongside each other and reduce the carbon footprint.

“Few projects have also explored ways to promote clean energy generation at grass-root levels by enabling domestic as well as commercial energy producers to sell excess energy to the grid using blockchain-based metering and incentivizing systems,” he added.

ML solutions

According to a new study by Stanford University researchers, technology holds promise to help enforce federal regulations, including those related to the environment, in a fair, transparent way.

The study examined the machine learning techniques designed to support a US Environmental Protection Agency initiative to reduce severe Clean Water Act violations.

“Machine learning is being used to help manage an overwhelming number of things that federal agencies are tasked to do—as a way to help increase efficiency,” said study co-principal investigator Daniel Ho, the William Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. “Yet what we also show is that simply designing a machine learning-based system can have an additional benefit.”

ML pioneers Yeshua Bengio and Andrew Ng have joined forces with a small group of researchers to show how ML might aid society in adapting to climate change.

Green Horizons from IBM collects weather, humidity, traffic data using IoT devices and employs ML technique to give weather forecasts, identifies hotspots and provides area-specific info for targeted solutions. Google has come out with a carbon-intelligent computing platform for its large data centres. It can alter the time of computation operations so that services utilise non-carbon sources of power when there is enough solar or wind energy.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Massachusetts have cautioned against the larger carbon footprint of machine learning and the huge power demands for training neural networks. The double-edged nature of technology means we have to do due diligence before co-opting AI/ML to fight climate change.


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