Josefine Hintz, Technische Universität Berlin

European cities leveraging artificial intelligence for climate action – a governance perspective

Cities are looking at a multitude of options to address climate change, including ways to leverage urban planning, financial incentives, and technological innovation. As such, many cities are also considering data-driven approaches, in particular involving artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as novel opportunities for achieving their climate neutrality and resiliency targets. There has been limited experience with deploying AI and ML in urban areas in the context of addressing climate change, yet there is little room for experimentation and failure in light of the ambitious timelines to reach climate targets. In this dissertation, I aim to make a contribution to the academic literature by providing an in-depth understanding of how European cities can integrate AI into their efforts towards climate neutrality in a safe and useful manner. First, I will investigate in which ways European cities already use AI for mitigating climate change, and how they have developed and operationalized decision-making criteria for selecting these approaches. Second, I will analyse city-level governance arrangements for AI-based climate change mitigation projects in the context of Berlin, Germany, by making use of Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development framework. In a third part, I will leverage the results of the first two parts to develop an approach that could mitigate risk and enable city governments to take a proactive stance on responsible AI development through anticipatory governance. The planned outputs of this dissertation include a state-of-the-art overview of AI applications used in European cities for climate change mitigation; a decision-making framework for a-priori evaluation of such applications; a deep case study about a city-level governance arrangement; and an assessment of financial, cultural, political, bureaucratic, and regulatory levers as well as barriers for cities to practice anticipatory governance for responsible AI deployment to address climate change.