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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

We’ve written previously on concerns about energy needs for AI and its predicted growth. The industry seems to be getting concerned as well. According to this article from The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), US software company Salesforce announced

“it will be advocating for lawmakers and regulators to start building legislation to require companies to disclose their AI emissions, with standardized metrics for measuring and reporting the environmental impact of AI systems. Salesforce is calling on all companies employing general-purpose AI models to publicly disclose the energy efficiency and carbon footprint associated with AI development and operations using standard metrics. Doing so, they say, should help drive efficiencies over time as well as allow users to make more informed choices when it comes to using AI and energy use.”

While Salesforce’s statement advocates for new laws/regulations, companies don’t have to wait for those – current emissions quantification and disclosure frameworks (e.g., the Greenhouse Gas Protocol) can already be used for emissions associated with AI use. In fact, I expect many companies are already planning to include these emissions in their next go-around of estimates and disclosures. Most will likely fall into Scope 2, but depending on the specific situation, they could be Scope 1. As fast as companies are moving to adopt the technology, it would be prudent for them to move as quickly on their own expressions of concern about AI’s environmental impact. And while some will grumble about expanding emissions disclosures, bringing this information out in the open does indeed help drive innovation and change.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile