Climate & AI

The Green Screen Coalition recently announced the awardees for the Catalyst Fund, one of the first explicit attempts to invest in and support practitioners at the intersection of climate justice and digital rights.

The Green Screen Coalition originated in 2020 with Mozilla Foundation as a founding member. It began as a collaborative exploration between a small group of funding institutions in the digital rights field. We understood that to adequately address the climate emergency we find ourselves in, funders and others need to come together, understand our role, and identify where resourcing gaps exist. Together we commissioned a series of studies that explore the intersections and implications of the digital rights field and climate and environmental justice. We’ve also held convenings to support the growth and connections among the burgeoning community at this intersection. The Catalyst Fund and our grantee partners mark an exciting new period for the coalition – we are seeing the seeds we planted come to fruition.

While this is surely a milestone at the intersection of climate justice and digital rights broadly, it is also a milestone within Mozilla’s journey to establish sustainability and climate justice as a pillar of our work.

Over the past five years, we’ve intentionally hosted fellows and funded experimental projects illustrative of the connections between climate justice, the internet, and AI:

These first attempts, in parallel with taking steps internally and engaging in the Green Screen Coalition, all informed a greater exploration of how we might leverage our power and positionality as Mozilla to address the climate crisis.

This year we moved exponentially forward in this direction: Adopting the theme of AI and Environmental Justice, the Mozilla Technology Fund awarded $500,000 to 10 projects that seek to make a positive impact in ecosystems and human communities. They use open-source AI tools to track methane emissions, expose harmful mining operations, monitor air quality, and more. Some of these projects have already been cited in pending legislation to measure and mitigate the environmental impacts of AI.

We’ve also put out a series of blog posts highlighting The Internet's Invisible Carbon Footprint and actions individuals, companies, and governments can take. And we introduced a mechanism for individuals to identify and contribute names of people and projects working at the intersection of environmental justice and AI in our newly published AI Intersections database. Further, 25% of our programming at MozFest House Amsterdam is dedicated to the theme of Planetary Justice.

Mozilla’s mission is to enable Trustworthy AI, and a core component of trustworthiness must be sustainability. At the same time as leveraging AI to address climate justice issues, we also need to acknowledge and measure the impacts of training and using AI systems on the climate and the environment, as well as push for actions to mitigate, make more efficient, and provide remedy for resulting damage. We will only find solutions to these problems if we continue to fund, build, and advocate with this as a core intention.