Hear from South Australia’s climate tech trailblazer
22 Mar. 2023 7 min read
Allys Todd is the cofounder and chief executive of Val.Ai, a local start up that has grown exponentially over the past few years. In the lead up to appearing as a guest panellist at the Industry Climate Change Conference this April, Allys gives us an insight into the role of technology in delivering climate change solutions.
What inspired you to start Val.Ai?
I have a degree in the field of environmental sciences, and over 15 years of experience driving business strategy across not-for-profits, government and industry in conservation, climate action, natural capital, regenerative agriculture and carbon offset.
I most recently held a role in political advocacy for nature, conservation, sustainability and climate action and I found myself increasingly frustrated by the economic and governance systems that were impeding a speedy transition and decarbonisation opportunities.
This led me and my cofounder to step outside of the safety of our career swim lanes and seek to create new technologies that can enable our economy to take responsibility for our emissions at the scale and pace, we need to address our climate commitments.
But it takes a whole tribe and our work to date is due to the hard work and effort of many individuals who have supported our growth.
How have you seen attitudes towards climate change and sustainability change within the artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) community over the years?
I am relatively new to the AI/ML space but one element that excites me about the climate tech community is the potential to transform industries and societies to become more sustainable and resilient.
I have valued the opportunity for collaboration as climate tech brings together people from diverse backgrounds to develop innovative solutions to one of the most pressing challenges of our time.
By developing new technologies and business models, our climate tech start-up is creating jobs and opportunities while also contributing to a more sustainable future for all.
What is the potential role of AI/ML in achieving net zero emissions?
AI/ML can play a crucial role in achieving net-zero emissions by enabling more efficient and effective decision-making, optimisation, and automation of various energy systems and processes.
Carbon capture and storage: AI/ML can help improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of carbon capture and storage technologies, which capture carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes and store them underground.
Smart transportation: AI/ML can enable smarter and more efficient transportation systems by optimising traffic flows, reducing congestion, and promoting the use of low-emission vehicles.
Climate modelling: AI/ML can help improve climate modelling and prediction, which can assist in identifying and addressing the causes and effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events and rising sea levels.
Energy optimisation: AI/ML can help optimise energy systems and processes, such as power grids, transportation networks, and building energy management systems, to reduce energy consumption and emissions.
Renewable energy integration: AI/ML can help integrate renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, into the grid by predicting energy production and demand, optimising energy storage and distribution, and reducing energy wastage.
The Val.Ai technology used artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive data insights enabling corporations and consumers to activate their role in the decarbonisation journey using the home and asset as their entry point. Residential homes in Australia account for around 20% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.
This highlights the important role that residential buildings and homeowners can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Overall, the potential role of AI/ML in achieving net-zero emissions is significant, and continued research and development in this area could help accelerate progress towards a sustainable and low-carbon future.
How can policymakers/government best support the development and deployment of AI/ML in achieving net zero emissions?
Policy-makers and government are key to us reaching our net zero targets and their commitment to foster innovation is a crucial element. The focus should include:
- Increased funding: Governments can increase funding for research and development of AI/ML technologies that can contribute to achieving net-zero emissions. This can include funding for academic research, startup companies, and public-private partnerships.
- Create supportive regulatory frameworks: Policymakers can create supportive regulatory frameworks that incentivize companies to invest in and develop AI/ML technologies that can contribute to achieving net-zero emissions. This can include tax incentives, subsidies, and regulations that promote the use of low-emission technologies.
- Foster collaboration: Policymakers can encourage collaboration between academic institutions, research organisations, startups, and large companies to develop and deploy AI/ML technologies that can contribute to achieving net-zero emissions.
- Build capacity: Policymakers can build capacity by investing in training programs for AI/ML professionals and by supporting education initiatives that promote the development of AI/ML technologies for sustainable and low-carbon energy systems.
- Promote international cooperation: Policymakers can promote international cooperation on the development and deployment of AI/ML technologies for achieving net-zero emissions. This can include working with other countries to share best practices, collaborate on research projects, and develop common standards and protocols.
By taking these steps, policymakers and governments can support the development and deployment of AI/ML technologies that can contribute to achieving net-zero emissions and promote a sustainable and low-carbon future.
What impact do you think the Industry Climate Change Conference will have on businesses and industry in South Australia and the wider community?
The Industry Climate Change Conference can play an important role in driving positive change and promoting sustainability in businesses and industries in South Australia and the wider community. By raising awareness, fostering collaboration, influencing policy and regulation, attracting investment and innovation, and enhancing reputation, the conference can help accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon and sustainable future.
You have also been involved in the South Australian Nature Alliance and Conservation Council of South Australia – tell us about your work in these areas.
I had the pleasure of working within the conservation and environmental advocacy space both here in this state and nationally.
The South Australian Nature Alliance is a coalition of environmental groups that works to protect and conserve South Australia's natural environment. The alliance advocates for policies and initiatives that promote sustainable land use, protect biodiversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Conservation Council of South Australia is the state's peak environmental advocacy organisation. Their work includes campaigns on issues such as climate change, renewable energy, and protection of wildlife and ecosystems.
Both organisations play a critical role in advocating for conservation and environmental protection in South Australia.
Through these channels, I worked with many great individuals who helped raise public awareness, influence policy and decision-making, and drive positive change towards a sustainable and low-carbon future.
Want to hear more from Allys? The Industry Climate Change Conference is taking place on 20-21 April at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Register here: https://climate23.com.au/