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Tech Firm Giants Urge Government To Support A £100m 'International Centre for AI, Energy and Climate'

Sun Jun 21 2020

A consortium of tech and engineering firms, universities and corporate entities such as IBM have urged the Government to back plans for a £100m 'International Centre for AI, Energy and Climate'.

The group sent a letter to Boris Johnson last week urging him to support the initiative, arguing that the "case for UK leadership on AI for climate has never been clearer".

The groups stated goal is to see the UK develop an approach, using AI and data science technologies, to address the climate and energy challenges that the world currently faces, integrating them into their green recovery plans.

 

The centre they’ve suggest would initially require a £100m funding package but could support the transition to a net zero economy as well as promoting the UK’s AI and data science sector globally as well as accelerating actions regarding climate change ahead of next year’s COP26 climate conference.

 

The group, highlighted that without Government support the UK was at a high risk of falling behind other countries in the fields of AI and data science. 

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Policies, data sharing models, market structures, and finance models developed for an analogue era are holding back the development and deployment of many data science applications for climate change and urgently need updating. Overcoming these challenges could unlock the potential for data science and AI to systemically improve the efficiency of energy systems worldwide and help address wider climate challenges.

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One of the signatories to the letter, sent to Boris Johnson last week, was Peter Cutton-Brock, senior associate at environmental think tank ESG who pointed out that the UK Government should be leaping at the chance to further develop the AI sector as a boost to the economy whilst also reducing the nations carbon foot print.

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All countries across the world are now undergoing two economic revolutions: the transition to zero emissions and the increasing application of data science and AI," he said. "There are enormous opportunities in connecting these two revolutions together both to help accelerate the transition to net zero emissions, and for the UK unlock the huge economic potential in this space.

Peter Cutton-Brock - Senior Associate, ESG

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The letter further highlighted research completed by Microsoft last year that predicted by boosting AI adoption in just four sectors global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 4%. As such, next year’s COP26 climate summit would "represent the largest ever gathering of international leaders on UK soil”, presenting the Government with a unique opportunity to showcase the UK’s AI and Data Science sectors capabilities.

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Over time energy systems will need to fully embrace digital technologies such as data science and AI to be able to manage the increasing number and complexity of assets coming onto the grid due to the zero carbon transition, including variable and distributed generation, electric cars, batteries and demand side response assets. The government needs to support a locus of expertise, such as the International Centre for AI, Energy & Climate, that can accelerate and advise on this transition, and which can support the creation of hundreds of start-ups and thousands of high-tech jobs.

Paul Masarra – Former Chief Executive of RWE nPower

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The Government has previously signalled that it’s keen to promote AI climate action in its recovery plans, with reports suggesting carbon capture and storage, building upgrades, green hydrogen and electric vehicle infrastructure could all enjoy a boost.

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Sun Jun 21 2020

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