AI, carbon neutrality and the bottom line

by Victor AI, Founder and CEO of Terminus Group

In order to reduce greenhouse gases emissions and the subsequent carbon footprint of a company there are many and various components the modern CEO must consider, and many factors within the value chain that play a part. Increasingly, due to either state or international regulations such as the Zero-Net and ESG goals, these considerations may also extend to activities that are connected to but beyond the direct management of the company. So, the question on many boardroom agendas today is the same: What do we need to do to transition to the carbon neutral economy?

“Going green” or “Carbon Neutral” is an irreversible fact of doing business in the 21st century, and while a noble and necessary pursuit for the future of our planet and species, the implementation and impact a company can make may remain unclear to senior management. The transition from traditional practices to the new will not be without its complications; however, it would most certainly serve all companies well, if not already, for CO2 emissions to be included in the company’s parameters of operational efficiency.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown that we are woefully behind on achieving the 2050 goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – to date, less than one per cent of that target has been achieved. While much has been said about governmental and individual responsibility in relation to our environmental impact on the planet, it remains crucial that companies – from startups and SMEs to the MNCs of the world – act now to address their contribution.

As the attitudes of governments, worldwide, continue to forge ahead and enact policies to achieve such goals, companies not only have a moral and environmental obligation to comply, they also need to be aware of the very real cost of leaving that transition until the last minute and the accelerated costs associated with decarbonization of their operations that would mean, in order to meet those regulations.

While many companies may not have even considered it as an option, one of the most important factors that companies should consider, when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint, is the use of high technologies, such as artificial intelligence or AI.

The good news is: The AI technology already exists to help companies make more informed decisions about their resource and energy use – as well as to improve their efficiency across their supply chain. In addition, future products and services that have currently not even been dreamt of or only exist on the R&D drawing board, may also spring from the adoption AI components and related tech. Of course, each company is different and identifying the most carbon-efficient products that will ensure future market competitiveness will be key. However, the right AI will most certainly improve operations from resource use, logistical and developmental efficiencies, going forward.

To effectively use AI in their decarbonization efforts, companies must first remove all the obstacles that prevent them from fully embracing it. Such issues may stem from a lack of R&D funds within the organization. This may be the case with startups or SMEs, but there is also the issue of a lack of skills to implement AI effectively within the company, as well as adherence to the relevant digital governance regulations, in that country. There is also a generational issue around C-level involvement. As a new and, therefore, unknown technology to many currently in positions of senior management, the understanding of how AI can support future growth of a company may also be a hindering factor in the embrace and implementation of the technology.

To those less initiated in the often-befuddling acronyms of “tech-speak,” all I would say is that, with the use of artificial intelligence, the option now exists for companies to make vastly more accurate, real-time, and informed decisions that will improve efficiency in their supply chain. In relation to carbon neutral goals, AI, through the use of self-learning algorithms, can help identify the most carbon-efficient products and improve distribution, logistics and they can also predict the supply and demand of their products. As to funding issues: Companies, like ourselves at Terminus Group, are investing heavily in the R&D of product and services and are working hand-in-hand with the requirements of smaller entities to integrate AI into their operations in ways that may be restrictive on cost, if going it alone.

In short, the potential of AI to reduce our CO2 footprint is immense. Whether that be from an individual or household level and companies or up to the full-scale management of a whole AI-managed city-level infrastructure.

Of course, from a company level, it is strongly advised and important to thoroughly evaluate the impact on the reduction of carbon emissions before it is implemented; however, the potential of AI to reduce carbon dioxide is undeniable. Taken up to the city level or even in concert with a combination of urban environments across a country, AI’s contribution to meeting the 2050 goals and other milestone targets along the way is undoubtedly the way forward, and one in which we must embrace sooner rather than later – for the benefit of the individual, the environment, and business continuity.

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