AI could reduce global emissions by 4%, say PwC and Microsoft

AI could reduce global emissions by 4%, say PwC and Microsoft

Greater adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) could reduce global greenhouse emissions by 4% by 2030, equivalent to around 2.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide, according to new research from PwC UK commissioned by Microsoft. 

The How AI can enable a Sustainable Future report also showed that the technology could boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 4.4% by creating 38 million new jobs across multiple sectors. 

These findings come after over a decade of Microsoft efforts in the area, including reducing the firm’s own carbon emissions and purchasing over 1.5 gigawatts of renewable energy. Microsoft has also partnered with its customers to drive sustainability and committed US$50 million to its AI for Earth programme, which is dedicated to solving global environmental challenges.   

“The magnitude and speed of the world’s environmental changes have made it increasingly clear that we must do more, and…Microsoft is taking steps to do just that,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, in a blog post. “We’re taking action to put our own house in order, while increasingly addressing sustainability challenges around the globe by engaging our strongest assets as a company — our employees and our technologies.”

As such, Microsoft is committing itself to driving sustainability even further. The firm has increased its internal carbon fee to US$15 per metric ton on all carbon emissions. The internal tax was established seven years ago to hold all business divisions financially responsible for reducing carbon emissions. The funds from this increased fee will be used to maintain Microsoft’s carbon neutrality. 

Microsoft has also pledged to build sustainable campuses and data centres and to accelerate research through data science in the AI for Earth programme. It will also partner with new and current customers to drive sustainable transformations and to advocate for environmental policy changes such as joining the Carbon Leadership Council. 

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