ICML 2021 Workshop
Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning


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 2020, ICLR 2020, NeurIPS 2019, ICML 2019). For this iteration of the workshop, the keynote talks and panel discussions will be particularly focused on connections to the Paris Agreement and reaching net-zero emission targets, but submitted papers may be on any topic of relevance to climate change and machine learning.

About ICML

This workshop is part of the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), one of the premier conferences on machine learning. To attend the workshop, register for the Workshops component of ICML at https://icml.cc/Register/view-registration (registration opens May 7). The workshop is open to the public; it is not necessary to submit a paper to the workshop in order to attend.

About the Workshop

Informational Webinar

We recently conducted two informational webinars answering questions about the mentorship program and how to prepare a successful submission for the workshop.

Recordings for the webinars can be found here.

Organizers

Hari Prasanna Das (UC Berkeley)
Katarzyna (Kasia) Tokarska (ETH Zurich)
Maria João Sousa (IST, ULisboa)
Meareg Hailemariam (DAUST)
David Rolnick (Mila, McGill)
Xiaoxiang Zhu (TU Munich)
Yoshua Bengio (Mila, UdeM)

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. 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 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. We encourage, but do not require, use of the ICML style template.

Please see the Tips for Submissions and FAQ, and contact climatechangeai.icml2021@gmail.com with questions.

Submission Tracks

There are two tracks for submissions. Submissions are limited to 4 pages for the Papers track, and 3 pages for the Proposals track, in PDF format (see examples from NeurIPS 2020, ICLR 2020, NeurIPS 2019, and ICML 2019). 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 welcomed. Datasets should be designed to permit machine learning research (e.g. formatted with clear benchmarks for evaluation). In this case, baseline experimental results on the dataset are preferred, but not required.

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.

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.

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 May 31.

We suggest that after the mentor-mentee matching is made, a first (physical or digital) meeting should take place within the first week (May 1-8) 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 May 31.

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

Application

Applications are due by April 28.

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.icml2021@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: Do I need to use LaTeX or the ICML style files?
A: No, although we encourage it.

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.icml2021@gmail.com with any questions.

Q: Can I submit work to this workshop if I am also submitting to another ICML 2021 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.