AI and the Planet in Crisis – Climate, Sustainability, and Global Governance

University of Vienna, 23 – 24 September 2024

Organization: Mark Coeckelbergh, Leonie Bossert, Leonie Möck

Keynote Speakers:

Aimee van Wynsberghe, University of Bonn
Benedetta Brevini, University of Sydney
Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs Austria
Daniel Kammen, University of California, Berkley
Lidia Brito, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences UNESCO
Payal Arora, University of Utrecht
Rupert Read, Director of the Climate Majority Project

Humanity is facing pressing socio-ecological crises such as biodiversity loss, pandemics, and climate change. All these crises have a planetary dimension, as they have global and intergenerational consequences. Technologies can play a major role in mitigating or exacerbating these crises, especially artificial intelligence (AI) with its ever-increasing impact around the world, making it one of the leading technologies of the Anthropocene. AI can contribute to climate change due to its huge consumption of energy and water, as well as high CO2 emissions. But it can also mitigate climate change with gathering and processing data on temperature change and CO2 emissions, transforming mobility systems to emit less, managing energy consumption, or nudging people toward more climate-friendly behavior.

The link between AI and climate change is attracting increasing attention within academia, politics, and the media. However, the question of how AI should be developed and applied to mitigate rather than fuel climate change remains underexplored. We believe that it is critically important to examine the ways in which AI relates to climate change, to discuss how to best govern AI and climate change at the global level, and to imagine how to create both local and planetary transformations towards more sustainable and democratic futures.  

With this conference, we aim at gathering scholars from around the world to discuss these open research and policy questions, to work towards solutions on how to develop and use AI in a sustainable, climate-friendly way without violating basic democratic principles, and to develop a vision for a new global governance framework.

Therefore, we invite scholars from different relevant disciplines, such as e.g. philosophy, politics, sociology, anthropology, climate science, computer science and others, to contribute. We are particularly interested in perspectives from the Global South on how to (not) develop and use AI technologies in the climate context while promoting global justice.

Potential research questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

•    How to use AI ‘for climate’ without interfering with people’s autonomy in ways that are not acceptable in a democratic system,
•    How to govern both AI and climate change at a global level, taking global and intergenerational justice and post-colonial perspectives into account,
•    How to balance interests in mitigating climate change with potentially competing interests,
•    How and whether climate-friendly AI applications should be regulated by law,
•    How to use AI ‘for climate’ in a way that it also benefits non-human living beings,
•    How to evaluate climate friendliness, or more generally sustainability, of AI systems,
•    The role of non-Western philosophies and word views in (not) applying AI ‘for climate’.

How to apply:
Send an abstract (max. 300 words) together with a bio (max. 100 words) to

by 10th June 2024.

Successful applicants will hear back from the organizers by 15th July.

A special issue in a leading international journal is planned as a follow-up to the conference.