Climate protestor interrupts Shell talk on AI energy transition at CogX
A climate protestor interrupted a talk by Shell on using AI for the energy transition today at the CogX Festival in London.
The protestor disturbed general manager of AI Amy Challen just as the Shell exec was about to begin her speech on how “AI will have a really fundamental role in the energy transition.”
Audience members witnessed a woman – who later told AI she was from protest group Fossil Free London – bring the talk to a halt while protesting against Shell’s fossil fuel business and how it “is complicit in the climate catastrophe.”
“Shell is a climate criminal,” the protestor accused as security removed her from the talk. It marked the latest in a number of climate protests at events across London this summer.
TechInformed asked CogX Festival – which is in its 7th edition and was this year held at London’s O2 Arena – for comment, but they said none was available at this time.
Challen, in her keynote said that “AI and digital will have a really fundamental role to play in the energy transition.”
The general manager said that AI will help with inefficiency, enable an energy mix with solar and wind, help speed up research and development planning, and finally in measuring progressive along with unstructured data and using computer vision on imaging.
“We should really take this seriously, the energy transition,” said Challen in her speech.
Challen highlighted herself the importance of reducing fossil fuel emissions by her employers in pointing out how AI and using real-time optimisation in one of its plants has resulted in a 2% production increase – the equivalent of taking 28,000 cars off the US roads.
“Now, if you think about the electrification of cars, that kind of infrastructure needed on them to get [the equivalent] of 28,000 cars off the US roads would be huge,” she said.
The keynote also detailed how AI helps accurately forecast the weather for the wind and solar farms to better optimise the energy.
With R&D, Shell uses AI as a shortcut to experiments. As the company hosts vast amounts of data on previous experiments, the team in R&D will use AI to find results of past experiments in a much more efficient time, meaning less new experiments are needed.
However, “AI is not the answer,” says Challen. “The answer is physical-chemical technologies and a massive shift in the way you do things.”
“I would like it to happen faster, and AI is being enabled for that,” Challen concluded.
It was one of a number of protests carried out by group Fossil Free London at the event. They also disrupted a keynote by UK secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Michelle Donelan, before being dragged from the conference hall.
In an exclusive interview with TI, the protestors from the group claimed: “We know that they are not serious and we know they are liars, yet they’re having their reputation bolstered by events like this and we can’t let it happen.”
“We can’t let Shell get off the hook anymore,” Fossil Free London said. “The whole of our society is asleep at the wheel on climate.”
In response to Shell’s defence that it is taking steps to become more carbon friendly, the protestors argued: “Most of Shell’s investments are still in oil and gas.”
“They’re going to run out of their carbon budget by 2034, so however much they go on about how much they’re doing, they’re not doing enough,” the protestors claimed.
When asked for a comment, Charlie Muirhead, CEO of CogX Festival, told TechInformed “Fossil fuel companies need to be a part of the conversation if we’re going to get to a solution. It’s not going to happen without them being involved.”
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