ICLR 2023 Workshop: Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning

About

Many in the ML community wish to take action on climate change, but are unsure of the pathways through which they can have the most impact. This workshop highlights work that demonstrates that, while no silver bullet, ML can be an invaluable tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in helping society adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate change is a complex problem, for which action takes many forms - from theoretical advances to deployment of new technology. Many of these actions represent high-impact opportunities for real-world change, and are simultaneously interesting academic research problems.

This workshop is part of a series (NeurIPS 2022, NeurIPS 2021, ICML 2021, NeurIPS 2020, ICLR 2020, NeurIPS 2019, and ICML 2019).

Climate change disproportionally affects people and environments in low- and middle-income countries. For this iteration of the workshop, we aim to explore the connection between global perspectives and local challenges in the context of employing machine learning to tackle climate change. As this is the first time one of the top machine learning conferences is being hosted in-person outside the Global North, we want to take this opportunity to shine a light on work that employs, analyzes, or critiques ML methods and their use for climate change mitigation and adaptation in low- and middle-income countries.

About ICLR

This workshop is part of the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), one of the premier conferences on machine learning. For information on how to attend the ICLR conference, please see here https://iclr.cc/Conferences/2023. The workshop is open to the public; it is not necessary to submit to the workshop in order to attend.

About the Workshop

Call for Submissions

We invite submissions of short papers using machine learning to address problems in climate mitigation, adaptation, or modeling, including but not limited to the following topics:

All machine learning techniques are welcome, from kernel methods to deep learning. Each submission should make clear why the application has (or could have) a pathway to positive impacts regarding climate change. This year, we especially invite work that addresses, contextualizes and critiques the deployment of machine learning for tackling climate change in low- and middle income countries. We highly encourage submissions which make their data publicly available. Accepted submissions will be invited to give poster presentations, of which some will be selected for spotlight talks.

The workshop does not publish proceedings, and submissions are non-archival. Submission to this workshop does not preclude future publication. Previously published work may be submitted under certain circumstances (see the FAQ).

All papers and proposals submissions must be through the submission website. Submissions will be reviewed double-blind; do your best to anonymize your submission, and do not include identifying information for authors in the PDF. Authors are required to use the workshop style template (based on the ICLR style files), available for LaTeX.

All tutorial submissions must be through the submission website.

Please see the Tips for Submissions and FAQ, and contact climatechangeai.iclr2023@gmail.com with questions.

Submission Tracks

There are three tracks for submissions: (i) Papers, (ii) Proposals and (iii) Tutorials. Submissions are limited to 4 pages for the Papers track, and 3 pages for the Proposals track, in PDF format (see examples from previous workshops here). References do not count towards this total. Supplementary appendices are allowed but will be read at the discretion of the reviewers. All submissions must explain why the proposed work has (or could have) positive impacts regarding climate change.

PAPERS Track

Work that is in progress, published, and/or deployed.

Submissions for the Papers track should describe projects relevant to climate change that involve machine learning. These may include (but are not limited to) academic research; deployed results from startups, industry, public institutions, etc.; and climate-relevant datasets.

Submissions should provide experimental or theoretical validation of the method presented, as well as specifying what gap the method fills. Authors should clearly illustrate a pathway to climate impact, i.e., identify the way in which this work fits into broader efforts to address climate change. Algorithms need not be novel from a machine learning perspective if they are applied in a novel setting. Details of methodology need not be revealed if they are proprietary, though transparency is highly encouraged.

Submissions creating novel datasets are welcome. Datasets should be properly documented with regards to their provenance and contents and designed to permit machine learning research (e.g. formatted with clear benchmarks for evaluation).

PROPOSALS Track

Early-stage work and detailed descriptions of ideas for future work.

Submissions for the Proposals track should describe detailed ideas for how machine learning can be used to solve climate-relevant problems. While less constrained than the Papers track, Proposals will be subject to a very high standard of review. Ideas should be justified as extensively as possible, including motivation for why the problem being solved is important in tackling climate change, discussion of why current methods are inadequate, explanation of the proposed method, and discussion of the pathway to climate impact. Preliminary results are optional.

TUTORIALS Track

Interactive notebooks for insightful step-by-step walkthroughs

Submissions for the Tutorials track should introduce or demonstrate the use of machine learning methods and tools (e.g. libraries, packages, services, datasets, or frameworks) to address climate-relevant challenges. Tutorial proposals (due Jan 20) should take the form of an abstract and include a clear and concise description of what users can expect to learn from the tutorial. For accepted proposals, the initial draft of the tutorial submissions (due Feb 24) and final tutorial submissions (due March 31) should be in the form of executable notebooks and follow the CCAI Tutorial Template. Authors must submit the notebook in a self-contained runnable environment (e.g. Colab, Binder) to allow users and reviewers to easily access and run the tutorial notebook.

Tutorial proposal submissions will be reviewed based on their potential impact and usability by the climate and AI research community. Submissions will also be assessed based on the originality of the problem space; for this, kindly review our list of CCAI tutorials to minimize substantial overlap with existing tutorials. Notebook submissions will be assessed based on clarity, accessibility, and code quality. Lastly, we ask authors to emphasize the real-world impact of the ML models in the tutorial by answering questions such as: Who will be using the models/outputs and how will they be used? What decisions will be made based on these models? How will this impact existing systems/the environment/affected communities on the ground?

For more information on the tutorial proposal guidelines, kindly check this document.

Tips for Submissions

Addressing Impact

Tackling climate change requires translating ideas into action. The guidelines below will help you clearly present the importance of your work to a broad audience, hopefully including relevant decision-makers in industry, government, nonprofits, and other areas.

Interactive Q&A

If you have further questions on how to participate in the workshop, you can ask those directly via the interactive Q&A session hosted on our community platform. You can also always contact us via email at climatechangeai.iclr2023@gmail.com. For recordings of informational webinars of previous editions of our workshop, please see here.

Organizers

Sasha Luccioni (Huggingface)
Konstantin Klemmer (Microsoft)
Simone Nsutezo Fobi (Microsoft)
Rasika Bhalerao (Northeastern University)
Utkarsha Agwan (UC Berkeley)
Marcus Voss (Birds on Mars, TU Berlin)
Olalekan Akintande (University of Ibadan)
Yoshua Bengio (Mila, UdeM)

Mentorship Program

We are hosting a mentorship program to facilitate exchange between potential workshop submitters and experts working in topic areas relevant to the workshop. The goal of this program is to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations and ultimately increase the quality and potential impact of submitted work.

Expectations:

Mentors are expected to guide mentees during the CCAI mentorship program as they prepare submissions for this workshop.

Examples of mentor-mentee interactions may include:

Mentees are expected to initiate contact with their assigned mentor and put in the work and effort necessary to prepare a Paper or Proposal submission by Feb 5.

We suggest that after the mentor-mentee matching is made, a first (physical or digital) meeting should take place within the first week (Jan 10-17) to discuss the Paper or Proposal and set expectations for the mentorship period. Subsequent interactions can take place either through meetings or via email discussions, following the expectations set during the initial meeting, culminating in a final version of a Paper or Proposal submitted via the CMT portal by Feb 5.

Mentors and mentees must abide by the following Code of Conduct: https://www.climatechange.ai/code_of_conduct.

Application

Applications are due by Jan 10. We will post a link with the mentor / mentee application forms shortly.

Sponsors

TBA

Frequently Asked Questions

Mentorship Program FAQ

Q: Are mentors allowed to be authors on the paper for which they provided mentorship?
A: Yes, mentors can be co-authors but not reviewers.

Q: What happens if the mentor/mentee does not fulfill their duties, or if major issues come up?
A: Please email us at climatechangeai.iclr2023@gmail.com and we will do our best to help resolve the situation. Potential breaches of the Code of Conduct will be responded to promptly as detailed therein.

Q: What happens if I apply to be a mentee but do not get paired with a mentor?
A: While we will do our best, we cannot guarantee pairings for everyone. Even if you do not get paired with a mentor, we encourage you to submit a Paper or Proposal to the workshop, and our reviewers will provide you with guidance and feedback on how to improve it.

Q: What happens if my submission does not get accepted to the workshop?
A: While the mentorship program is meant to give early-career researchers and students the opportunity to improve the quality of their work, sometimes submissions will need further polishing and elaboration before being ready for presentation at a CCAI workshop. If this is the case, we invite you to take into account the comments made by the reviewers and to resubmit again to a subsequent CCAI workshop.

Q: I cannot guarantee that I can commit at least 4 hours to the program over the time period. Should I still apply as a mentor?
A: No. While the 4 hour time commitment is a suggestion, we do believe that it is necessary to ensure that all mentees receive the help and guidance they need.

Q: I do not have a background in machine learning; can I still apply to be a mentor/mentee?
A: Yes! We welcome applications from domains that are complementary to machine learning to solve the problems that we are targeting.

Q: What happens if my mentor/mentee wants to continue meeting after the workshop?
A: We welcome and encourage continued interactions after the official mentorship period. That said, neither the mentor nor the mentee should feel obligated to maintain contact.

Submission FAQ

Q: How can I keep up to date on this kind of stuff?
A: Sign up for our mailing list!

Q: I’m not in machine learning. Can I still submit?
A: Yes, absolutely! We welcome submissions from many fields. Do bear in mind, however, that the majority of attendees of the workshop will have a machine learning background; therefore, other fields should be introduced sufficiently to provide context for the work.

Q: What if my submission is accepted but I can’t attend the workshop?
A: You may ask someone else to present your work in your stead.

Q: It’s hard for me to fit my submission on 3 or 4 pages. What should I do?
A: Feel free to include appendices with additional material (these should be part of the same PDF file as the main submission). Do not, however, put essential material in an appendix, as it will be read at the discretion of the reviewers.

Q: Can I send submissions directly by email?
A: No, please use the CMT website to make submissions.

Q: The submission website is asking for my name. Is this a problem for anonymization?
A: You should fill out your name and other info when asked on the submission website; CMT will keep your submission anonymous to reviewers.

Q: Do submissions for the Proposals track need to have experimental validation?
A: No, although some initial experiments or citation of published results would strengthen your submission.

Q: The submission website never sent me a confirmation email. Is this a problem?
A: No, the CMT system does not send automatic confirmation emails after a submission, though the submission should show up on the CMT page once submitted. If in any doubt regarding the submission process, please contact the organizers. Also please avoid making multiple submissions of the same article to CMT.

Q: Can I submit previously published work to this workshop?
A: Yes, though under limited circumstances. In particular, work that has previously been published at non-machine learning venues may be eligible for submission; however, work that has been published in conferences on machine learning or related fields is likely not eligible. If your work was previously accepted to a Climate Change AI workshop, this work should have changed or matured substantively to be eligible for resubmission. Please contact climatechangeai.iclr2023@gmail.com with any questions.

Q: Can I submit work to this workshop if I am also submitting to another ICLR 2023 workshop?
A: Yes. We cannot, however, guarantee that you will not be expected to present the material at a time that conflicts with the other workshop.