Climate Finance & Economics

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Workshop Papers

Venue Title
ICLR 2024 EU Climate Change News Index: Forecasting EU ETS prices with online news (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Carbon emission allowance prices have been rapidly increasing in the EU since 2018 and accurate forecasting of EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) prices has become essential. This paper proposes a novel method to generate alternative predictors for daily ETS price returns using relevant online news information. We devise the EU Climate Change News Index by calculating the term frequency–inverse document frequency (TF–IDF) feature for climate change-related keywords. The index is capable of tracking the ongoing debate about climate change in the EU. Finally, we show that incorporating the index in a simple predictive model significantly improves forecasts of ETS price returns.

Authors: Aron Pap (BGSE); Aron D Hartvig (Corvinus University of Budapest, Cambridge Econometrics); Péter Pálos (Budapest University of Technology and Economics)

ICLR 2024 ExioML: Eco-economic dataset for Machine Learning in Global Sectoral Sustainability (Papers Track)
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Abstract: The Environmental Extended Multi-Regional Input-Output analysis is the predominant Ecological Economic research framework for analysing the environmental impact of economic activities. This paper introduces the novel ExioML dataset as the first Machine Learning benchmark data in sustainability analysis. We open-sourced the ExioML data and development toolkit to lower barriers and accelerate the cooperation between Machine Learning and Ecological Economic research. A crucial greenhouse gas emission regression task evaluates the usability of the proposed dataset. We compared the performance of traditional shallow models against deep models by leveraging a diverse factor accounting table and incorporating multiple modalities of categorical and numerical features. Our findings reveal that deep and ensemble models achieve low mean square errors below 0.25 and serve as a future machine learning research baseline. Through Ex- ioML, we aim to foster precise ML predictions and modelling to support climate actions and sustainable investment decisions. The data and codes are available:

Authors: Yanming Guo (University of Sydney)

NeurIPS 2023 Elucidating the Relationship Between Climate Change and Poverty using Graph Neural Networks, Ensemble Models, and Remote Sensing Data (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Climate and poverty are intrinsically related: regions with extreme temperatures, large temperature variability, and recurring extreme weather events tend to be ranked among the poorest and most vulnerable to climate change. Nevertheless, there currently is no established method to directly estimate the impact of specific climate variables on poverty and to identify geographical regions at high risk of being negatively affected by climate change. In this work, we propose a new approach based on Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) to estimate the effect of climate and remote sensing variables on poverty indicators measuring Education, Health, Living Standards, and Income. Furthermore, we use the trained models and perturbation analyses to identify the geographical regions most vulnerable to the potential variations in climate variables.

Authors: Parinthapat Pengpun (Bangkok Christian International School); Alessandro Salatiello (University of Tuebingen)

ICLR 2023 Mapping global innovation networks around clean energy technologies (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Reaching net zero emissions requires rapid innovation and scale-up of clean tech. In this context, clean tech innovation networks (CTINs) can play a crucial role by pooling necessary resources and competences and enabling knowledge transfers between different actors. However, existing evidence on CTINs is limited due to a lack of comprehensive data. Here, we develop a machine learning framework to identify CTINs from announcements on social media to map the global CTIN landscape. Specifically, we classify the social media announcements regarding the type of technology (e.g., hydrogen, solar), interaction type (e.g., equity investment, R\&D collaboration), and status (e.g., commencement, update). We then extract referenced organizations via entity recognition. Thereby, we generate a large-scale dataset of CTINs across different technologies, countries, and over time. This allows us to compare characteristics of CTINs, such as the geographic proximity of actors, and to investigate the association between network evolution and technology innovation and diffusion. As a direct implication, our work helps policy makers to promote CTINs by identifying current barriers and needs.

Authors: Malte Toetzke (ETH Zurich); Francesco Re (ETH Zurich); Benedict Probst (ETH Zurich); Stefan Feuerriegel (LMU Munich); Laura Diaz Anadon (University of Cambridge); Volker Hoffmann (ETH Zurich)

ICLR 2023 Widespread increases in future wildfire risk to global forest carbon offset projects revealed by explainable AI (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Carbon offset programs are critical in the fight against climate change. One emerging threat to the long-term stability and viability of forest carbon offset projects is wildfires, which can release large amounts of carbon and limit the efficacy of associated offsetting credits. However, analysis of wildfire risk to forest carbon projects is challenging because existing models for forecasting long-term fire risk are limited in predictive accuracy. Therefore, we propose an explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) model trained on 7 million global satellite wildfire observations. Validation results suggest substantial potential for high resolution, enhanced accuracy projections of global wildfire risk, and the model outperforms the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research's leading fire model. Applied to a collection of 190 global forest carbon projects, we find that fire exposure is projected to increase 55% [37-76%] by 2080 under a mid-range scenario (SSP2-4.5). Our results indicate the large wildfire carbon project damages seen in the past decade are likely to become more frequent as forests become hotter and drier. In response, we hope the model can support wildfire managers, policymakers, and carbon market analysts to preemptively quantify and mitigate long-term permanence risks to forest carbon projects.

Authors: Tristan Ballard (Sust Inc); Gopal Erinjippurath (Sust Global); Matthew W Cooper (Sust Global); Chris Lowrie (Sust Global)

ICLR 2023 Data-driven mean-variability optimization of PV portfolios with automatic differentiation (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Increasing PV capacities has a crucial role to reach carbon-neutral energy systems. To promote PV expansion, policy designs have been developed which rely on energy yield maximization to increase the total PV energy supply in energy systems. Focusing on yield maximization, however, ignores negative side-effects such as an increased variability due to similar-orientated PV systems at clustered regions. This can lead to costly ancillary services and thereby reduces the acceptance of renewable energy. This paper suggests to rethink PV portfolio designs by deriving mean-variability hedged PV portfolios with smartly orientated tilt and azimuth angles. Based on a data-driven method inspired from modern portfolio theory, we formulate the problem as a biobjective, non-convex optimization problem which is solved based on automatically differentiating the physical PV conversion model subject to individual tilt and azimuth angles. To illustrate the performance of the proposed method, a case study is designed to derive efficient frontiers in the mean-variability spectrum of Germany's PV portfolio based on representative grid points. The proposed method allows decision-makers to hedge between variability and yield in PV portfolio design decisions. This is the first study highlighting the problem of ignoring variability in PV portfolio expansion schemes and introduces a way to tackle this issue using modern methods inspired by Machine Learning.

Authors: Matthias Zech (German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Networked Energy Systems); Lueder von Bremen (German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Networked Energy Systems)

NeurIPS 2022 Data-Driven Optimal Solver for Coordinating a Sustainable and Stable Power Grid (Papers Track)
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Abstract: With today's pressing climate change concerns, the widespread integration of low-carbon technologies such as sustainable generation systems (e.g. photovoltaics, wind turbines, etc.) and flexible consumer devices (e.g. storage, electric vehicles, smart appliances, etc.) into the electric grid is vital. Although these power entities can be deployed at large, these are highly variable in nature and must interact with the existing grid infrastructure without violating electrical limits so that the system continues to operate in a stable manner at all times. In order to ensure the integrity of grid operations while also being economical, system operators will need to rapidly solve the optimal power flow (OPF) problem in order to adapt to these fluctuations. Inherent non-convexities in the OPF problem do not allow traditional model-based optimization techniques to offer guarantees on optimality, feasibility and convergence. In this paper, we propose a data-driven OPF solver built on information-theoretic and semi-supervised machine learning constructs. We show that this solver is able to rapidly compute solutions (i.e. in sub-second range) that are within 3\% of optimality with guarantees on feasibility on a benchmark IEEE 118-bus system.

Authors: Junfei Wang (York University); Pirathayini Srikantha (York University)

NeurIPS 2022 TCFD-NLP: Assessing alignment of climate disclosures using NLP for the financial markets (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Climate-related disclosure is increasing in importance as companies and stakeholders alike aim to reduce their environmental impact and exposure to climate-induced risk. Companies primarily disclose this information in annual or other lengthy documents where climate information is not the sole focus. To assess the quality of a company's climate-related disclosure, these documents, often hundreds of pages long, must be reviewed manually by climate experts. We propose a more efficient approach to assessing climate-related financial information. We construct a model leveraging TF-IDF, sentence transformers and multi-label k nearest neighbors (kNN). The developed model is capable of assessing alignment of climate disclosures at scale, with a level of granularity and transparency that will support decision-making in the financial markets with relevant climate information. In this paper, we discuss the data that enabled this project, the methodology, and how the resulting model can drive climate impact.

Authors: Rylen Sampson (Manifest Climate); Aysha Cotterill (Manifest Climate); Quoc Tien Au (Manifest Climate)

NeurIPS 2022 Estimating Corporate Scope 1 Emissions Using Tree-Based Machine Learning Methods (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Companies worldwide contribute to climate change, emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Yet, most do not report their direct or Scope 1 emissions, resulting in a large data gap in corporate emissions. This study aims to fill this gap by training several decision-tree machine learning models to predict company-level Scope 1 emissions. Our results demonstrate that the Extreme Gradient Boosting and LightGBM models perform best, where the former shows a 19% improvement in prediction error over a benchmark model. Our model is also of reduced complexity and greater computational efficiency; it does not require meta-learners and is trained on a smaller number of features, for which data is more common and accessible compared to prior works. Our features are uniquely chosen based on concepts of environmental pollution in economic theory. Predicting corporate emissions with machine learning can be used as a gap-filling approach, which would allow for better GHG accounting and tracking, thus facilitating corporate decarbonization efforts in the long term. It can also impact representations of a company’s carbon performance and carbon risks, thereby helping to funnel investments towards companies with lower emissions and those making true efforts to decarbonize.

Authors: Elham Kheradmand (University of Montreal); Maida Hadziosmanovic (Concordia University); Nazim Benguettat (Concordia); H. Damon Matthews (Concordia University); Shannon M. Lloyd (Concordia University)

NeurIPS 2022 Topic correlation networks inferred from open-ended survey responses reveal signatures of ideology behind carbon tax opinion (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Ideology can often render policy design ineffective by overriding what, at face value, are rational incentives. A timely example is carbon pricing, whose public support is strongly influenced by ideology. As a system of ideas, ideology expresses itself in the way people explain themselves and the world. As an object of study, ideology is then amenable to a generative modelling approach within the text-as-data paradigm. Here, we analyze the structure of ideology underlying carbon tax opinion using topic models. An idea, termed a topic, is operationalized as the fixed set of proportions with which words are used when talking about it. We characterize ideology through the relational structure between topics. To access this latent structure, we use the highly expressive Structural Topic Model to infer topics and the weights with which individual opinions mix topics. We fit the model to a large dataset of open-ended survey responses of Canadians elaborating on their support of or opposition to the tax. We propose and evaluate statistical measures of ideology in our data, such as dimensionality and heterogeneity. Finally, we discuss the implications of the results for transition policy in particular, and of our approach to analyzing ideology for computational social science in general.

Authors: Maximilian Puelma Touzel (Mila)

NeurIPS 2022 ForestBench: Equitable Benchmarks for Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification of Nature-Based Solutions with Machine Learning (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Restoring ecosystems and reducing deforestation are necessary tools to mitigate the anthropogenic climate crisis. Current measurements of forest carbon stock can be inaccurate, in particular for underrepresented and small-scale forests in the Global South, hindering transparency and accountability in the Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) of these ecosystems. There is thus need for high quality datasets to properly validate ML-based solutions. To this end, we present ForestBench, which aims to collect and curate geographically-balanced gold-standard datasets of small-scale forest plots in the Global South, by collecting ground-level measurements and visual drone imagery of individual trees. These equitable validation datasets for ML-based MRV of nature-based solutions shall enable assessing the progress of ML models for estimating above-ground biomass, ground cover, and tree species diversity.

Authors: Lucas Czech (Carnegie Institution for Science); Björn Lütjens (MIT); David Dao (ETH Zurich)

AAAI FSS 2022 The Impact of TCFD Reporting - A New Application of Zero-Shot Analysis to Climate-Related Financial Disclosures
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Abstract: We examine climate-related disclosures in 3,335 reports based on a sample of 188 banks that officially endorsed the recommendations of the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). In doing so, we introduce a new application of zero-shot text classification based on the BART model and a MNLI task. By developing a set of robust and fine-grained labels, we show that zero-shot analysis provides high accuracy in analyzing companies’ climate-related reporting without further model training. We are able to demonstrate that banks that support the TCFD increase their level of disclosure after officially declaring their support for the guidelines, although we also find significant differences depending on the topic of disclosure. Our findings yield important conclusions for the design of climate-related disclosures.

Authors: Alix Auzepy (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen), Elena Tönjes (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen) and Christoph Funk (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)

AAAI FSS 2022 Machine Learning Methods in Climate Finance: A Systematic Review
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Abstract: Preventing the materialization of climate change is one of the main challenges of our time. The involvement of the financial sector is a fundamental pillar in this task, which has led to the emergence of a new field in the literature, climate finance. In turn, the use of Machine Learning (ML) as a tool to analyze climate finance is on the rise, due to the need to use big data to collect new climate-related information and model complex non-linear relationships. Considering the potential for the use of ML in climate finance and the proliferation of articles in this field, we propose a survey of the academic literature to assess how ML is enabling climate finance to scale up. The contribution of this paper is threefold. First, we do a systematic search in three scientific databases to assemble a corpus of relevant studies. Using topic modeling (Latent Dirichlet Allocation) we uncover representative thematic clusters. This allows us to statistically identify seven granular application domains where ML is playing a significant role in climate finance literature: natural hazards, biodiversity, agricultural risk, carbon markets, energy economics, ESG factors & investing, and climate data. Secondly, we do an analysis highlighting publication trends; and thirdly, we show a breakdown of ML methods applied by research area, aiming to spur further innovative work from ML experts.

Authors: Andres Alonso-Robisco (Banco de España), Jose Manuel Carbo (Banco de España) and Jose Manuel Marques (Banco de España)

NeurIPS 2021 Learning to identify cracks on wind turbine blade surfaces using drone-based inspection images (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Wind energy is expected to be one of the leading ways to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement but it in turn heavily depends on effective management of its operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. Blade failures account for one-third of all O&M costs thus making accurate detection of blade damages, especially cracks, very important for sustained operations and cost savings. Traditionally, damage inspection has been a completely manual process thus making it subjective, error-prone, and time-consuming. Hence in this work, we bring more objectivity, scalability, and repeatability in our damage inspection process, using deep learning, to miss fewer cracks. We build a deep learning model trained on a large dataset of blade damages, collected by our drone-based inspection, to correctly detect cracks. Our model is already in production and has processed more than a million damages with a recall of 0.96. We also focus on model interpretability using class activation maps to get a peek into the model workings. The model not only performs as good as human experts but also better in certain tricky cases. Thus, in this work, we aim to increase wind energy adoption by decreasing one of its major hurdles - the O&M costs resulting from missing blade failures like cracks.

Authors: Akshay B Iyer (SkySpecs, Inc.); Linh V Nguyen (SkySpecs Inc); Shweta Khushu (SkySpecs Inc.)

NeurIPS 2021 An Automated System for Detecting Visual Damages of Wind Turbine Blades (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Wind energy’s ability to compete with fossil fuels on a market level depends on lowering wind’s high operational costs. Since damages on wind turbine blades are the leading cause for these operational problems, identifying blade damages is critical. However, recent works in visual identification of blade damages are still experimental and focus on optimizing the traditional machine learning metrics such as IoU. In this paper, we argue that pushing models to production long before achieving the "optimal" model performance can still generate real value for this use case. We discuss the performance of Blue, our damage’s suggestion model in production and how this system works in coordination with humans as part of a commercialized product and how it can contribute towards lowering wind energy’s operational costs.

Authors: Linh V Nguyen (SkySpecs Inc); Akshay B Iyer (SkySpecs, Inc.); Shweta Khushu (SkySpecs Inc.)

NeurIPS 2021 Capturing Electricity Market Dynamics in the Optimal Trading of Strategic Agents using Neural Network Constrained Optimization (Papers Track)
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Abstract: In competitive electricity markets the optimal trading problem of an electricity market agent is commonly formulated as a bi-level program, and solved as mathematical program with equilibrium constraints (MPEC). In this paper, an alternative paradigm, labeled as mathematical program with neural network constraint (MPNNC), is developed to incorporate complex market dynamics in the optimal bidding strategy. This method uses input-convex neural networks (ICNNs) to represent the mapping between the upper-level (agent) decisions and the lower-level (market) outcomes, i.e., to replace the lower-level problem by a neural network. In a comparative analysis, the optimal bidding problem of a load agent is formulated via the proposed MPNNC and via the classical bi-level programming method, and compared against each other.

Authors: Mihály Dolányi (KU Leuven); Kenneth Bruninx (KU Leuven); Jean-François Toubeau (Faculté Polytechnique (FPMs), Université de Mons (UMONS)); Erik Delaue (KU Leuven)

NeurIPS 2021 Machine Learning in Automating Carbon Sequestration Site Assessment (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Carbon capture and sequestration are viewed as an indispensable component to achieve the Paris Agreement climate goal, i.e., keep the global warming within 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Once captured, most CO2 needs to be stored securely for at least decades, preferably in deep underground geological formations. It is economical to inject and store CO2 near/around a depleted gas/oil reservoir or well, where a geological trap for CO2 with good sealing properties and some minimum infrastructure exist. In this proposal, with our preliminary work, it is shown that Machine Learning tools like Optical Character Recognition and Natural Language Processing can aid in screening and selection of injection sites for CO2 storage, facilitate identification of possible CO2 leakage paths in the subsurface, and assist in locating a depleted gas/oil well suitable for CO2 injection and long-term storage. The automated process based on ML tools can also drastically decrease the decision-making cycle time in site selection and assessment phase by reducing human effort. In the longer term, we expect ML tools like Deep Neural Networks to be utilized in CO2 storage monitoring, injection optimization etc. By injecting CO2 into a trapping geological underground formation in a safe and sustainable manner, the Energy industry can contribute substantially to reducing global warming and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement by the end of this century.

Authors: Jay Chen (Shell); Ligang Lu (Shell); Mohamed Sidahmed (Shell); Taixu Bai (Shell); Ilyana Folmar (Shell); Puneet Seth (Shell); Manoj Sarfare (Shell); Duane Mikulencak (Shell); Ihab Akil (Shell)

NeurIPS 2021 A NLP-based Analysis of Alignment of Organizations' Climate-Related Risk Disclosures with Material Risks and Metrics (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) establishes standards to guide the disclosures of material sustainability and ESG (Environment, Social, Governance)-related information across industries. The availability of quality, comparable and decision-useful information is required to assess risks and opportunities later integrated into financial decision-making. Particularly, standardized, industry-specific climate risk metrics and topics can support these efforts. SASB’s latest climate risk technical bulletin introduces three climate-related risks that are financially material - physical, transition and regulatory risks - and maps these across industries. The main objective of this work is to create a framework that can analyze climate related risk disclosures using an AI-based tool that automatically extracts and categorizes climate-related risks and related metrics from company disclosures based on SASB’s latest climate risk guidance. This process will help with automating large-scale analysis and add much-needed transparency vis-a-vis the current state of climate-related disclosures, while also assessing how far along companies are currently disclosing information on climate risks relevant to their industry. As it stands, this much needed type of analysis is made mostly manually or using third-party metrics, often opaque and biased, as proxies. In this work, we will first create a climate risk glossary that will be trained on a large amount of climate risk text. By combining climate risk keywords in this glossary with recent advances in natural language processing (NLP), we will then be able to quantitatively and qualitatively compare climate risk information in different sectors and industries using a novel climate risk score that will be based on SASB standards.

Authors: Elham Kheradmand (University of Montreal); Didier Serre (Clearsum); Manuel Morales (University of Montreal); Cedric B Robert (Clearsum)

ICML 2021 Estimation of Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions via Machine Learning (Papers Track)
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Abstract: As an important step to fulfill the Paris Agreement and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the European Commission adopted the most ambitious package of climate impact measures in April 2021 to improve the flow of capital towards sustainable activities. For these and other international measures to be successful, reliable data is key. The ability to see the carbon footprint of companies around the world will be critical for investors to comply with the measures and hit climate neutrality. However, with only a small portion of companies volunteering to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it is nearly impossible for investors to align their investment strategies with the measures. By training a machine learning model on disclosed GHG emissions, we are able to estimate the emissions of other companies globally who do not disclose their emissions. In this paper, we show that our model provides accurate estimates of corporate GHG emissions to investors such that they are able to align their investments with the regulatory measures and achieve net-zero goals.

Authors: You Han (Bloomberg L.P.); Achintya Gopal (Bloomberg LP); Liwen Ouyang (Bloomberg L.P.); Aaron Key (Bloomberg LP)

ICML 2021 Automated Identification of Climate Risk Disclosures in Annual Corporate Reports (Papers Track)
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Abstract: It is important for policymakers to understand which financial policies are effective in increasing climate risk disclosure in corporate reporting. We use machine learning to automatically identify disclosures of five different types of climate-related risks. For this purpose, we have created a dataset of over 120 manually-annotated annual reports by European firms. Applying our approach to reporting of 337 firms over the last 20 years, we find that risk disclosure is increasing. Disclosure of transition risks grows more dynamically than physical risks, and there are marked differences across industries. Country-specific dynamics indicate that regulatory environments potentially have an important role to play for increasing disclosure.

Authors: David Friederich (University of Bern); Lynn Kaack (ETH Zurich); Sasha Luccioni (Mila); Bjarne Steffen (ETH Zurich)

NeurIPS 2020 Is Africa leapfrogging to renewables or heading for carbon lock-in? A machine-learning-based approach to predicting success of power-generation projects (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Several extant energy-planning studies, comprising wide-ranging assumptions about the future, feature projections of Africa’s rapid transition in the next decade towards renewables-based power generation. Here, we develop a novel empirical approach to predicting medium-term generation mix that can complement traditional energy planning. Relying on the largest dataset on historic and planned power plants available for Africa, combined with country-level characteristics, we build a machine-learning-based model, using gradient boosted trees, that demonstrates high predictive performance. Training our model on past successful and failed projects, we find that the most relevant factors for commissioning are plant-level: capacity, fuel, ownership and grid connection type. We then apply the trained model to predict the realisation of the current project pipeline. Contrary to the rapid transition scenarios, our results show that the share of non-hydro renewables in generation is likely to remain below 10% in 2030, despite total generation more than doubling. These findings point to high carbon lock-in risks in Africa, highlighting the urgency to shift its pipeline of projects towards low-carbon energy and improve the realisation chances of renewable energy plants.

Authors: Galina Alova (University of Oxford); Philipp Trotter (University of Oxford); Alex Money (University of Oxford)

NeurIPS 2020 Revealing the Oil Majors' Adaptive Capacity to the Energy Transition with Deep Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (Papers Track)
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Abstract: A low-carbon energy transition is transpiring to combat climate change, posing an existential threat to oil and gas companies, particularly the Majors. Though Majors yield the resources and expertise to adapt to low-carbon business models, meaningful climate-aligned strategies have yet to be enacted. A 2-degrees pathways (2DP) wargame was developed to assess climate-compatible pathways for the oil Majors. Recent advances in deep multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) have achieved superhuman-level performance in solving high-dimensional continuous control problems. Modeling within a Markovian framework, we present the novel 2DP-MARL model which applies deep MARL methods to solve the 2DP wargame across a multitude of transition scenarios. Designed to best mimic Majors in real- life competition, the model reveals all Majors quickly adapt to low-carbon business models to remain robust amidst energy transition uncertainty. The purpose of this work is provide tangible metrics to support the call for oil Majors to diversify into low-carbon business models and, thus, accelerate the energy transition.

Authors: Dylan Radovic (Imperial College London); Lucas Kruitwagen (University of Oxford); Christian Schroeder de Witt (University of Oxford)

NeurIPS 2020 Analyzing Sustainability Reports Using Natural Language Processing (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Climate change is a far-reaching, global phenomenon that will impact many aspects of our society, including the global stock market. In recent years, companies have increasingly been aiming to both mitigate their environmental impact and adapt their practices the changing climate context. This is reported via increasingly exhaustive reports, which cover many types of sustainability measures, often under the umbrella of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) disclosures. However, given this abundance of data, sustainability analysts are obliged to comb through hundreds of pages of reports in order to find relevant information. We have leveraged recent progress in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to create a custom model, ClimateQA, which allows the analysis of financial reports in order to identify climate-relevant sections using a question answering approach. We present this tool and the methodology that we used to develop it in the present article.

Authors: Sasha Luccioni (Mila); Emi Baylor (McGill); Nicolas Duchene (Universite de Montreal)

NeurIPS 2020 Climate-FEVER: A Dataset for Verification of Real-World Climate Claims (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Our goal is to introduce \textsc{climate-fever}, a new publicly available dataset for verification of climate change-related claims. By providing a dataset for the research community, we aim to help and encourage work on improving algorithms for retrieving climate-specific information and detecting fake news in social and mass media to reduce the impact of misinformation on the formation of public opinion on climate change. We adapt the methodology of \textsc{fever} \cite{thorne2018fever}, the largest dataset of artificially designed claims, to real-life claims collected from the Internet. Although during this process, we could count on the support of renowned climate scientists, it turned out to be no easy task. We discuss the surprising, subtle complexity of modeling real-world climate-related claims within the \textsc{fever} framework, which provides a valuable challenge for general natural language understanding. We hope that our work will mark the beginning of an exciting long-term joint effort by the climate science and \textsc{ai} community to develop robust algorithms to verify the facts for climate-related claims.

Authors: Markus Leippold (University of Zurich); Thomas Diggelmann (ETH Zurich)

NeurIPS 2020 Explaining Complex Energy Systems: A Challenge (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Designing future low-carbon, sector-coupled energy systems is a complex task. The work is therefore often supported by software tools that model and optimize possible energy systems. These tools typically have high dimensional inputs and outputs and are tailored towards domain experts. The final investment decisions to implement a certain system, however, are mostly made by people with little time and prior knowledge, thus unable to understand models and their input data used in these tools. Since such decisions are often connected to significant personal consequences for the decision makers, it is not enough for them to rely on experts only. They need an own, at least rough understanding. Explaining the key rationales behind complex energy system designs to non-expert decision makers in a short amount of time is thus a critical task for realizing projects of the energy transition in practice. It is also an interesting, novel challenge for the explainable AI community.

Authors: Jonas Hülsmann (TU Darmstadt); Florian Steinke (TU Darmstadt)

NeurIPS 2020 A Multi-source, End-to-End Solution for Tracking Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: The impact of climate change on tropical agri-food systems will depend on both the direction and magnitude of climate change, and the agricultural sector’s adaptive capacity, the latter being affected by the chosen adaptation strategies. By extending SEIRS, a Satellite Remote Sensing (SRS) based system originally developed by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture - CIAT for monitoring U.S. Government-funded development programs across cropping areas in Africa, this research proposes the development and deployment of a scalable AI-based platform exploiting free-of-charge SRS data that will enable the agri-food sector to monitor a wide range of climate change adaptation (CCA) interventions in a timely, evidence-driven and comparable manner. The main contributions of the platform are i) ingesting and processing variety sources of SRS data with a considerable record (> 5 years) of vegetation greenness and precipitation (input data); ii) operating an end-to-end system by exploiting AI-based models suited to time series analysis such as Seq2Seq and Transformers; iii) providing customised proxies informing the success or failure of a given local CCA intervention(s).

Authors: Alejandro Coca-Castro (Kings College London); Aaron Golden (NUI Galway); Louis Reymondin (The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture)

ICLR 2020 Accelerated Data Discovery for Scalable Climate Action (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the planet must decarbonize by 50% by 2030 in order to keep global warming below 1.5C. This goal calls for a prompt and massive deployment of solutions in all societal sectors - research, governance, finance, commerce, health care, consumption. One challenge for experts and non-experts is access to the rapidly growing body of relevant information, which is currently scattered across many weakly linked domains of expertise. We propose a large-scale, semi-automatic, AI-based discovery system to collect, tag, and semantically index this information. The ultimate goal is a near real-time, partially curated data catalog of global climate information for rapidly scalable climate action.

Authors: Henning Schwabe (Private); Sumeet Sandhu (Elementary IP LLC); Sergy Grebenschikov (Private)

ICLR 2020 TrueBranch: Metric Learning-based Verification of Forest Conservation Projects (Proposals Track) Best Proposal Award
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Abstract: International stakeholders increasingly invest in offsetting carbon emissions, for example, via issuing Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) to forest conservation projects. Issuing trusted payments requires a transparent monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) process of the ecosystem services (e.g., carbon stored in forests). The current MRV process, however, is either too expensive (on-ground inspection of forest) or inaccurate (satellite). Recent works propose low-cost and accurate MRV via automatically determining forest carbon from drone imagery, collected by the landowners. The automation of MRV, however, opens up the possibility that landowners report untruthful drone imagery. To be robust against untruthful reporting, we propose TrueBranch, a metric learning-based algorithm that verifies the truthfulness of drone imagery from forest conservation projects. TrueBranch aims to detect untruthfully reported drone imagery by matching it with public satellite imagery. Preliminary results suggest that nominal distance metrics are not sufficient to reliably detect untruthfully reported imagery. TrueBranch leverages a method from metric learning to create a feature embedding in which truthfully and untruthfully collected imagery is easily distinguishable by distance thresholding.

Authors: Simona Santamaria (ETH Zurich); David Dao (ETH Zurich); Björn Lütjens (MIT); Ce Zhang (ETH)

ICLR 2020 Xingu: Explaining critical geospatial predictions in weak supervision for climate finance (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) play a crucial key role in the decision-making of climate investors, policymakers and conservationists. Remote sensing is commonly used for MRV but practical solutions are constrained by a lack of labels to train machine learning-based downstream tasks. Recent work leverages weak supervision to alleviate the problem of labelled data scarcity. However, the definition of weak supervision signals is limited by the existence of millions of possible heuristic-based feature generation rules. Furthermore, these rules are often difficult to interpret for climate finance and underperform in critical data subsets. We propose Xingu, an interpretable MRV system to explain weak supervision rules using game-theoretic SHAP values for critical model predictions. Moreover, Xingu enables domain experts to collectively design and share labelling functions, thus curating a reusable knowledge base for weak supervision signals.

Authors: David Dao (ETH Zurich); Johannes Rausch (ETH Zurich); Ce Zhang (ETH); Iveta Rott (ETH Zurich)

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Abstract: The objective of the present paper is to review the climate change technology transfer. This research proposes a method for analysing CCTT using patent analysis and topic modelling. A collection of climate change mitigation related technology (CCMT) patents from patent databases would be used as input to group patents in several relevant topics for climate change mitigation using the topic exploration model in this research. The research questions we want to address are: how have the patenting activities changed over time in CCMT patents? And who are the technological leaders? The investigation of these questions can offer the technological landscape in climate change-related technologies at the international level. We propose a hybrid Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) approach for topic modelling and identification of relationships between terms and topics related to CCMT, enabling better visualizations of underlying intellectual property dynamics. Further, we propose predictive modelling for CCTT and competitor analysis to identify and rank countries with a similar patent landscape. The projected results are expected to facilitate the transfer process associated with existing and emerging climate change technologies and improve technology cooperation between governments.

Authors: Shruti Kulkarni (Indian Institute of Science (IISc))

ICML 2019 Using Natural Language Processing to Analyze Financial Climate Disclosures (Ideas Track)
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Abstract: According to U.S. financial legislation, companies traded on the stock market are obliged to regularly disclose risks and uncertainties that are likely to affect their operations or financial position. Since 2010, these disclosures must also include climate-related risk projections. These disclosures therefore present a large quantity of textual information on which we can apply NLP techniques in order to pinpoint the companies that divulge their climate risks and those that do not, the types of vulnerabilities that are disclosed, and to follow the evolution of these risks over time.

Authors: Sasha Luccioni (Mila); Hector Palacios (Element AI)

ICML 2019 GainForest: Scaling Climate Finance for Forest Conservation using Interpretable Machine Learning on Satellite Imagery (Ideas Track)
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Abstract: Designing effective REDD+ policies, assessing their GHG impact, and linking them with the corresponding payments, is a resource intensive and complex task. GainForest leverages video prediction with remote sensing to monitor and forecast forest change at high resolution. Furthermore, by viewing payment allocation as a feature selection problem, GainForest can efficiently design payment schemes based on the Shapley value.

Authors: David Dao (ETH); Ce Zhang (ETH); Nick Beglinger (Cleantech21); Catherine Cang (UC Berkeley); Reuven Gonzales (OasisLabs); Ming-Da Liu Zhang (ETHZ); Nick Pawlowski (Imperial College London); Clement Fung (University of British Columbia)