On AI, Sustainability and Earth Day

Photo by  Jean Lakosnyk

Photo by Jean Lakosnyk

Last week, consulting firm PwC’s report “How AI can enable a sustainable future” included the following comments:

  • "There is enormous potential for AI to be an important tool in the effort to decouple economic growth from rising carbon emissions

  • "Without new incentives that accelerate a market change towards clean energy – from renewables to electric vehicles – the efficiency gains from AI won’t deliver their full emissions reduction potential for the world ...

  • " in most cases multiple complementary technologies come together [with AI], including robotics, the internet of things, distributed energy resources, electric vehicles, and more."

  • Separately, Microsoft President Brad Smith, in the blog post “We’re increasing our carbon fee as we double down on sustainability” said, 

  • "Data can help tell us about the health of our planet, including the conditions of our air, water, land and the well-being of our wildlife. But we need technology’s help to capture this vast amount of data and convert it into actionable intelligence. Despite living in the Information Age, when it comes to environmental data we are still too often flying without real insights …

  • "Time is too short, resources too thin and the impact too large to wait for all the answers to act."

  • Also, comments in Apple’s “Environmental Responsibility Report - 2019” included: "Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing our planet.

  • "Clean energy technology offers tremendous benefits to our suppliers, electricity grids, and communities around the world.

  • "We believe that if policymakers fully and properly value these benefits, clean energy becomes more cost-competitive than fossil fuel energy."

  • Finally, comments from the Pew Research Center’s “For Earth Day, how Americans see climate change" included: “Compared with a decade ago, more Americans today say protecting the environment and dealing with global climate change should be top priorities for the president and Congress,

  • " A majority of Americans see at least some effect of climate changewhere they live,

  • "Millennial Republicans are more likely than Baby Boomer and older GOP members to say the Earth is warming due to human activity, 

  • "Partisanship is a stronger factor in people’s beliefs about climate change than is their level of knowledge and understanding about science."


  • Leadership from industry leaders (Apple, Microsoft and others) will help shape climate change policy. Increased focus on all costs of a product’s life-cycle (including recycling, removal and environmental impact), are important to the process.  

  • AI technology can help develop a better understanding of what is needed to be done.  Other components include developing economic incentives and strategies to drive behavioral change

  • Regarding Pew Research: As they highlight that US awareness about climate change is increasing (although political and generational differences persist), the forces of climate change are multi-generational and non-partisan.

Paul Dravis