Dec 5, 2023 - Axios Events

Axios House at COP28: AI’s Role in Decarbonization

The big picture: Industry leaders globally weighed in on the opportunities and challenges of AI's efforts to reduce emissions and improve clean energy systems at an Axios House event during COP28 in Dubai.

The details: On Dec. 4, Axios senior climate reporter Andrew Freedman and 1 big thing host/editor Niala Boodhoo moderated in-depth conversations with:

  • Kyle Clark, founder and CEO, Beta Technologies
  • Laura Lane, EVP & chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer, UPS
  • Gavin McCormick, executive director, WattTime and co-founder, Climate TRACE
  • John Powers, vice president, Global Cleantech and Renewables, Schneider Electric
  • Dr. Fahad AlYafei, chief technology officer of Siemens Energy Technology and Innovation Center in Abu Dhabi

Between the lines: Axios House is in Dubai for COP28 for the first time hosting thoughtful events with key stakeholders looking to improve climate change.

Clark discussed the future of electric aviation and AI's role in autonomous piloting:

  • "When people think of electric aviation, they think air taxi and unfortunately, air taxi, although it's going to happen, is 3 or 4 steps down the road. Our thesis and it's shared by UPS is that cargo goes electric and vertical before passenger does. But more importantly, cargo goes autonomous before passenger does."

Lane shared one way generative AI is being implemented at UPS.

  • "...With the use of generative AI, we've been able to create certain planning tools and route optimizations that have helped us minimize the number of miles travel both in the air and on the ground…We see incredible opportunities to just travel less miles, have our partners travel less miles and ensure that the emissions per package is reduced…Our goal is to cut the emissions for every single package that travels in our network or in a partner network by 50% by 2035. That's going to take a lot of that generative AI and that those capabilities that come from the tools that run off of it to help us drive those kind of reductions."

McCormick detailed former U.S. vice president Al Gore's role in Climate TRACE's sustainability efforts:

  • "I had invented a new algorithm that morning and I had emailed it to him, and by the time I got to his office, he had suggestions for improvements and it blew my mind to be meeting with a politician who could not possibly read this anywhere because it's fresh who actually had suggestions on how we can improve our AI algorithms. And what I learned is that since the 90s he has been waiting for someone to finally have advanced enough technology to be able to use satellites to monitor emissions all over the world…And so I would say we were a bunch of people running very tiny nonprofits who had no intention of getting a project this big. It was really his vision that supercharged it."

Powers detailed how the public and private sector could work together to increase sustainable energy solutions.

  • "By representing so many large electricity users, large energy users, we see that there's never been a higher demand for sustainability solutions for renewable energy solutions in the private sector. And we'd love to see more governments give the option for corporates for private investment to go into renewable energy…We find when you remove the barriers, there's an absolute flood of interest and an investment."

AlYafei explained how Siemens Energy is utilizing AI to streamline their processes and improve energy efficiency.

  • "...the quickest win would be the introduction of AI because with some algorithms, some applications, you would be able to achieve a considerable amount of efficiencies in decarbonizing, let's say, processes. There is a lot of process waste in the energy domain. And by introducing AI modules, you would be able to optimize beforehand. Then going into…changing your hardware. And that's a challenge. Hardware and energy is expensive…So A.I. would play a good role, a very effective role in expediting this transition journey."

Sponsored content:

Kareem Yusuf, senior vice president of Product Management and Growth at IBM Software, highlighted how AI could help with gaining insight from massive amounts of data.

  • "When you really think about solving the sustainability problem, it comes down to making sense of all that is being done. And that means you have to kind of gather it up, drive the insights and then drive actions based upon that."

Thank you to IBM for sponsoring this event.

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