Measuring the environmental impacts of artificial intelligence computing and applications: the AI footprint

This report looks at how policy makers can better understand and react to the positive and negative environmental impacts of AI for the good of the planet.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) systems can help achieve sustainability goals but can also use massive computational resources, raising sustainability concerns. This report looks at how policy makers can better understand AI’s direct and indirect impacts on the environment and react to both the positive and negative for the planet’s good.

More concretely, the report calls on policy makers to establish measurement standards, expand data collection, identify AI-specific impacts, look beyond operational energy use and emissions, and improve transparency and equity. It also details existing measurement tools and critical challenges governments face to quantify the positive and negative environmental impacts of training and deploying AI models and applications.

It concludes by saying countries should unite to create indicators specific to AI computing, or “compute”, share best practices, and support new and innovative AI applications to fight climate change. In doing so, countries can ensure that AI is trained and deployed in the most sustainable way possible while minimising negative environmental impacts.

Presentation and panel discussion at COP27, November 2022


At the OECD’s COP27 Virtual Pavilion

Opening remarks:

  • Jens Lundsgaard, Deputy Director of the Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate, OECD

Presentation of the report:

Confirmed panellists

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