What impacts does AI have on the environment?

Research questions

  • How can AI be used to improve environmental protection, and what new possibilities result for positive environmental effects (for example, for smart mobility and logistics)?
  • What negative environmental effects are associated with the use of AI (for example due to increased power consumption in cloud data centers)?


Digi & Green Economy – Interactions between digitalization and the transition to a green economy

This project aims to identify and analyze intersections between the necessary evolvement of Germany into a green economy and increasing digitalization.

Among other things, the project will compile areas that are already using big data and AI applications based on this for environmental protection, other possible applications that have not yet been used, and obstacles that are hindering application. Based on this, proposals are developed for regulations that can help to remove the obstacles to big data and AI applications in environmental protection. In addition, specific examples of AI applications will be analyzed in more detail.  

Digi & Öko – making digitalization environmentally sustainable

In addition to many other studies, this project identified AI applications that are especially relevant from an environmental perspective. Based on expert interviews, it describes and compares these in terms of their environmental potentials and risks.

The project also involved compiling a catalog of criteria for the general environmental assessment of AI applications. This began with a literature analysis to document the current state of research and be able to process it correctly. The following step was to organize a fireside chat with AI experts and to then conduct explorative expert interviews building on this. These were divided into the BMU's areas of responsibility in order to identify the opportunities, challenges and necessary political conditions under which AI applications can make a positive contribution to achieving the BMU's objectives.

Finally, a summarized assessment of the interviews was made and proposals were developed for additional environmental policy measures.

Environmental research and governance in the digital age

The questions in this project for the German Federal Environment Agency concern how digitization and AI can be used for environmental issues and how this can support the planned social-environmental transformation of our economy. In addition, the aim is to develop approaches that help the environment ministry to address the transformation productively and position itself with regard to environmental research and governance.  

Scientific monitoring and support of the German government’s Mobility and Fuels Strategy (MFS)

The Fraunhofer ISI coordinates the scientific monitoring of the MFS and supports its further development and implementation at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) together with its partners Fraunhofer IML, PTV, M-Five and the Hamburg University of Technology. The Fraunhofer ISI advises the BMVI in this context with scientific analyses and studies, as well as ad hoc on current issues concerning the transformation of the transport sector. These include increasingly automated and better integrated mobility made possible by new developments in AI.