An alliance of technology firms, business groups and universities has called on the Government to back plans for a £100m "International Centre for AI, Energy and Climate" as part of proposals to put data science at the heart of the UK’s environmental recovery plans.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the campaigners argue that the "case for UK leadership on AI for climate has never been clearer" and warn that the UK is at risk of "falling behind" in the field of applied AI.
The signatories, which include TechUK and Energy UK, as well as IBM, Arup, and Ovo Energy insist that the proposed centre could support the transition to a net zero economy and improve the competitiveness of the UK’s AI sector.
It would also establish the country as a global leader in data science and AI that accelerates action on climate change.
The letter added: "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."
The group highlights research published last year by Microsoft and PwC which estimated that boosting AI adoption in just four sectors could reduce global emissions by up to 4% against a "business as usual" scenario, while fuelling an increase of global GDP of 4.4%.
The campaigners also asked the Prime Minister to prioritise investments that improve the UK’s energy system data collection and data sharing.
"Enhanced energy data collection, standards and sharing combined with radically better energy system intelligence could help reduce energy prices, thereby supporting the wider economy," the letter states. "These elements are also fundamental pre-requisites for renewables-dominated energy systems."