The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School


A.I. Could Soon Need as Much Electricity as an Entire Country

Outlet: The New York Times

The electricity needed to run A.I. could boost the world’s carbon emissions, depending on whether the data centers get their power from fossil fuels or renewable resources. New climate disclosure laws may play a role in the future of A.I. electricity consumption.

All large companies that do business in California — including A.I.-intensive companies like OpenAI and Google — will have to become a lot more transparent about their climate risks and impacts under two major climate disclosure laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday.

The rules are the first of their kind in the United States, and more than 10,000 companies may be affected. The laws will likely have impact beyond the state’s borders, as well.

“There are few companies that are going to be able to say, we’re not going to do business in California,” says Eric Orts, the Guardsmark professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School. “My guess is you’re going to have more big states that will join with California and that this will become, one way or another, a federal standard.”