Over 37% of sustainability executives have decelerated their climate goals amidst Covid-19: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 17, 2020

However, adoption is on the rise, as over half the organisations (53%) are moving beyond pilots or proof of concept

Artificial Intelligence-powered use cases for climate action have the potential to help organisations fulfil up to 45 per cent of their Economic Emission Intensity (EEI) targets of the Paris Agreement.

This is according to a new research titled, ‘Climate AI: How artificial intelligence can power your climate action strategy’, from the Capgemini Research Institute, conducted in partnership with climate change start-up named ‘right based on science’.

The report states that while AI offers many climate action use cases, scaled deployment is proving elusive and just 13 per cent of organisations are successfully combining climate vision with AI capabilities.

Also read: Battling climate change: AI can lead the way for energy solutions

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of organisations have set long-term business goals to tackle climate change.

It revealed that adoption is on the rise, as more than half of the organisations (53 per cent) are moving beyond pilots or proof of concept.

The study speculated that the potential positive impact of AI is significant. Organisations can expect to cut GHG emissions by 16 per cent in the next three to five years through AI-driven climate action projects.

Across the five sectors, the research finds that AI-powered use cases can deliver up to 45 per cent of the Paris Accord requirement leading up to 2030. The consumer retail sector demonstrates the most potential for improvement using AI at 45 per cent and wholesale retail the least at 11 per cent, the researchers noted.

Despite the considerable potential of AI for climate action, adoption remains low. This could be due to several barriers to progress.

More than eight in 10 organisations spend less than 5 per cent of climate change investment on AI and data tracking. Half (54 per cent) have fewer than 5 per cent of employees with the skills to take up data and AI-driven roles.

More than a third (37 per cent) of sustainability executives have decelerated their climate goals in light of Covid-19, with the highest deceleration being in the energy and utility industry. 38 per cent of all organisations have put a hold on capital expenditure allocated for climate initiatives.

Only 13 per cent of organisations have aligned their climate vision and strategy with their AI capabilities.

The report also stated that 84 per cent of executives would rather compensate for (or offset) their carbon footprint than deploy technology solutions to reduce their footprint.

Also read: ‘AI will help farmers decide on what to grow’

This suggests a lack of awareness for AI climate action potential. According to the report, organisations need to invest in AI and data science teams to understand how best to deploy AI to harness it positively for sustainability.

Anne Laure Thieullent, Vice President, Artificial Intelligence and Analytics Group Offer Leader at Capgemini, said in an official release: “Addressing climate change is everyone’s responsibility and AI has the potential to make a significant impact; yet only a fraction of organisations are actively using this technology to its full potential.”

She added: “Organisations have the opportunity to prioritise the deployment of AI solutions to address their sustainable goals. Frameworks now exist to educate, build awareness, establish scalable operating models, and manage data to deliver tangible business outcomes with AI applied to climate action.”

Research methodology

Capgemini surveyed 800 executives from 400 organisations; a panel of 300 academicians and over 40 sustainability and tech experts.

Published on November 17, 2020

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