Climate change threatens the stability of the global economy, but the finance sector still largely continues to lag behind on the climate progress needed to mitigate it. In order to accelerate the scale of that progress, the sector must take full advantage of the power of technological developments such as artificial intelligence, said Andrew Zolli, chief impact officer of Planet Labs, at GreenBiz’s annual GreenFin 22 conference on climate finance last week in New York City.

In a talk on "Data and AI in the Age of Radical Transparency," Zolli spoke of the ways that satellite-based data collection and AI-based data analysis are advancing: Hundreds of satellites "the size of a loaf of bread" in space collect data from every corner of the planet.

"We collectively image the entire surface of the Earth every day at about 3 meters per pixel," Zolli said. "We're not reading your newspaper. We're not spying on you. We're not interested in that.

"What we're interested in is change — because this allows us to see every field, every forest, every facility, everywhere, every day. When you extract — using the tools of machine learning and computer vision — these essential patterns, you can see all kinds of things on the earth."

That high-resolution, high-quality data can enable global capital markets to finally account for short- and long-term climate risks and opportunities, from capturing the intrinsic value of the services nature provides to identifying bad actors to avoid working with to determining the climate resilience of investment decisions.

Zolli is hopeful that bringing together two of the most powerful industries in the world, technology and finance, to push for progress on climate change could create a paradigm shift. Building unprecedented transparency in global capital markets has major potential for the two sectors — and the way they approach climate action.

"Now it's time for technology and finance — the two big systems drivers — to come in and deliver this kind of work," Zolli said. "We have bigger problems than we may have ever imagined before, but we also have better tools that we really understand, and this is just one of them, among a bunch of others."

Read the full article about AI and climate solutions by Holly Secon at GreenBiz.