The International Energy Agency is one of the most powerful energy organizations in the world. Every year, it releases the World Energy Outlook -- an energy projection used by investors and policy makers across the world to guide their energy investments.
The IEA will play a defining role in whether governments and investors accelerate toward a clean energy economy. But IEA director Faith Birol has us scratching our heads. His public statements are all for a Green Recovery, but the IEA's flagship report misguides governments, underplays clean energy, and scores goals for the fossil fuel industry. So whose team is Birol on?
The proof will be in the IEA’s flagship report, this year’s World Energy Outlook.
Will it finally be centered around renewables and limiting global heating to 1.5C?
Every single year, policy makers and investors across the world use the IEA’s flagship report the World Energy Outlook to decide where to put their trillions. But the WEO has underestimated the growth of renewables while overestimating the role of fossil fuels for over a decade. Analysis of annual reports back to 2000 show the agency’s bias towards fossil fuels.
It’s unlikely that financial markets will accelerate the transition from fossil fuel to clean energy until the WEO leads the way. Chief Birol says the WEO is focused on “projections not predictions” -- but the WEO’s self-fulfilling prophecy for energy policy & investments has become undeniable. It’s time for accountability -- or its prophecy will lead us straight toward climate disaster.
From expansion of coal mining in Australia, to greater investment in Canada’s tar sands: fossil fuel companies across the world hide behind the IEA’s World Energy Outlook to justify some of the world’s most polluting energy projects. Shell referred to the IEA’s WEO on almost every 5th page in a recent legal battle in the Netherlands, and Exxon quoted their flagship report extensively to justify expansion of oil and gas!
The IEA operates within the OECD and gets funding from its member states. All OECD member states are signed up to the Paris Agreement, meaning they've agreed to strive to limit global heating to 1.5C. But rather than empowering its member states to meet this goal by properly advising them with a clean energy roadmap, the WEO delays their transition -- with catastrophic consequences for the planet and humanity.
Rather than compounding the tragedy by allowing it to hinder clean energy transitions, we need to seize the opportunity to help accelerate them.-- Fatih Birol
Recently, IEA chief Fatih Birol has started to shift the IEA’s direction. He has powerfully called for climate action and a green transition, and this spring a special report aligned with climate science is supposed to come out. It’s good progress -- but there’s only one thing that truly matters:
The World Energy Outlook 2021 needs to become 1.5C aligned and based on renewables. This is “the lighthouse”, “the Google Maps” that investors, fossil fuel giants, and policy makers across the world follow, or hide behind.
Fatih Birol -- we ask you to use your knowledge, your influence, and your power.
Fight like a lion, and make The WEO 2021 1.5C aligned!