At the COP28 event, the UN Climate Change Technology Executive Committee (TEC), in partnership with Enterprise Neurosystem, a non-profit AI organization, has introduced the AI Innovation Grand Challenge. This initiative, endorsed by the COP28 Presidency, is aimed at leveraging artificial intelligence to combat climate change, specifically focusing on developing AI-driven solutions in developing countries.
Simon Stiell, the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, acknowledged the potential of AI in addressing climate issues while also highlighting the need to be aware of its challenges and risks. “AI has shown its potential as a critical tool in the fight against climate change. Despite its challenges and risks, the Innovation Grand Challenge represents a significant step in utilizing AI’s capabilities and supporting innovators in developing nations,” he stated.
Omar Sultan Al Olama, the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, underlined the strategic necessity of integrating AI into national strategies to combat climate change. He pointed out the importance of international cooperation in this venture due to the global nature of climate change. “Incorporating AI allows for the utilization of data analytics to better align policies with real-time climate data, thus enhancing their effectiveness and propelling technological and scientific advancements in the energy sector,” he remarked.
The conference also discussed current applications of AI in various fields, such as forecasting climate patterns, boosting agricultural yields, and optimizing renewable energy systems. The conversation centered around using AI to drive transformative climate action in developing countries while avoiding exacerbating the digital divide.
Shantal Munro-Knight, a minister in Barbados’ Prime Minister’s Office, discussed collaborations with international tech firms to test AI applications in disease detection and hurricane-resistant building design. She emphasized the need for cooperation, training, and technology transfer to make AI a viable tool for climate mitigation and adaptation in small island developing states.
Moussa Bocar Thiam, Senegal’s Minister of Communications, spoke about adapting technology to bridge the digital divide, particularly for those most susceptible to climate change. “Integrating local languages into chatbot voice technology in these emerging tools can help address the digital divide,” he suggested.
Ali Zaidi, Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor of the USA, reiterated the importance of managing AI’s risks while maximizing its potential. He referred to President Biden’s Executive Order on AI as a testament to the USA’s dedication to this cause.
This effort is part of the Technology Mechanism Initiative on Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action, exploring AI’s potential to escalate climate solutions in developing countries. It aligns with UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for safe and dependable AI to expedite climate action towards Sustainable Development Goals.
Stig Svenningsen and Erwin Rose, Chairs of the Technology Mechanism, encouraged new collaborations under the #AI4ClimateAction Initiative to yield concrete results in policy and implementation.
COP28 Marks Historic Shift Away from Fossil Fuels
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) concluded with a significant agreement that signals the ‘beginning of the end’ for the fossil fuel era. This pact lays the groundwork for a rapid, just, and equitable transition, encompassing deep emission reductions and enhanced financial commitments.
The conference, which saw participation from nearly 200 Parties in Dubai, achieved a consensus on the first ‘global stocktake’ to bolster climate action before 2030, aiming to maintain the global temperature increase limit within 1.5°C.
Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, recognized the progress in Dubai as a monumental step in phasing out fossil fuels. He called for the swift translation of pledges into tangible real-world outcomes.
The global stocktake, seen as COP28’s core achievement, encompasses ‘every aspect under negotiation’ and will guide countries in strengthening their climate action plans by 2025. It acknowledges the necessity to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, aiming to cap global warming at 1.5°C. However, it was noted that current efforts are not sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement objectives.
The stocktake also highlights measures towards tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency advancements by 2030, among other goals.
Short-term objectives urge parties to present more ambitious emission reduction targets in their next round of climate action plans by 2025.
Strengthening Climate Change Resilience
The conference began with the World Climate Action Summit, attended by 154 Heads of States and Government. A notable consensus was reached on operationalizing the loss and damage fund, exceeding £551 million ($700 million) in commitments.
An agreement was also made for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Office for Project Services to manage the secretariat of the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage, aimed at providing technical assistance to developing countries adversely affected by climate change.
Parties agreed on targets for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and its framework, focusing on resilience to climate change and assessing countries’ efforts
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