How industries are using AI to aid a greener future


As extreme weather events become more commonplace and the world’s temperature rises steeply above pre-industrial levels, many industries are working to reduce their environmental footprint. Not only is it a necessary part of keeping the planet healthy, but it’s also in response to new consumer habits which prioritize sustainability over cheap prices.

Artificial Intelligence is playing a significant role in industrial sustainability. Not only can it offer models for biodiversity protection and solutions for water scarcity, but it can also streamline manufacturing processes and minimize air pollution, making it a major player in reducing emissions in big industries.

Which industries produce the most greenhouse gas emissions?

When it comes to emissions, some industries are bigger culprits than others. The most obvious one is the transportation sector – including cars, trucks, trains and aeroplanes – which contributed an astonishing 27% of 2020 GHG emissions in the US alone.

Another big contender is the Industry sector. Key processes like burning fuel and chemical reactions, not to mention the accidental leaks from industrial processes, contributed 24% of GHG in 2020. One-third of emissions originated from leaks of natural gas and petroleum that is used to make plastic, chemicals, metals and minerals.

Finally comes electric power which amounted to 25% of GHG emissions in 2020. The sector releases a huge amount of CO2, as well as smaller amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, which are released during the harmful process of burning fossil fuels. Households also become emitters too with heating, ventilation, air conditioning, appliances and lighting.

How are industries combatting their CO2 emissions with AI?

The biggest contributor, the transport sector, is now effectively utilizing AI to reduce their emissions. From cars, buses, trains and aviation, AI has played a key role in monitoring emissions and keeping them at a low level. One key invention is the autonomous vehicle which is mostly powered by electricity and is considered a cleaner, smarter mode of transportation.

AI also manages traffic all over the world, reducing congestion and the amount of time cars are on the road. Extreme traffic jams (some lasting up to 15 hours) are becoming less and less commonplace, thereby increasing fuel efficiency and road safety.

Even private aviation is making significant strides, thanks to AI. Despite the backlash, private jets are fitted with AI that guides them along optimized routes that avoid tricky terrains and bad weather, thereby enhancing the in-flight trajectory management system and making them more efficient than ever.

Other than that, AI is also reducing emissions in other industries by developing renewable energy, and fuel switching capabilities, improving fuel efficiency and electrical grid designs, and accurately predicting customer demand to avoid overproduction.