What is the IEA anyway?

From Watts Up With That?

Brief Note by Kip Hansen — 2 February 2023

Dave Middleton, a frequent contributor here at WUWT, quotes a report about the potential of geothermal energy in Texas which is stated to have been produced by the “state’s flagship universities — including the University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and Texas A&M University — [in collaboration] with the International Energy Agency “.  The actual report can be downloaded here.  

I say “actual report” because when one looks at the authorship of the report, one finds that the report has in fact been edited by and attributed to a non-profit advocacy group Project InnerSpace.  The two editors listed are: Jamie C. Beard, Esq., Founder and Executive Director of Project InnerSpace & Dr. Bryant A. Jones, Head of Policy and Education at Project InnerSpace. There is no indication in the full report – none whatever – that the report was produced in collaboration with IEA.  One of the many co-authors, Rebecca Schulz, is a “consultant for the World Energy Outlook team at the International Energy Agency (IEA)”.

And what is the IEA — the International Energy Agency — anyway?  It is an international agency in charge of the world’s energy?  Does it have regulatory powers under the United Nations?  Not exactly.

Here’s what IEA itself says:

The IEA was created in 1974 to help co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil. While oil security remains a key aspect of our work, the IEA has evolved and expanded significantly since its foundation. …. “Taking an all-fuels, all-technology approach, the IEA recommends policies that enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy.”  source ]

Translating that into plain, non-policy-geek English:

“The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organisation, established in 1974, that provides policy recommendations, analysis and data on the entire global energy sector, with a recent focus on curbing carbon emissions and reaching global climate targets, including the Paris Agreement.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, but the IEA was proud to publish a booklet:  “Net Zero by 2050 — A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector” [ full .pdf here ].  

Speaking about this report Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director, said:

 “Our Roadmap shows the priority actions that are needed today to ensure the opportunity of net-zero emissions by 2050 – narrow but still achievable – is not lost. The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal – our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5 °C – make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.”

Birol is also chairman of the World Economic Forum (Davos) Energy Advisory Board.

Bottom Line:

1.  The IEA is no longer a disinterested group of energy analysts advising world leaders about our energy options.  They started out trying to broker energy supply disagreements during the 1970s…but have transitioned into a full-on, all-aboard advocacy group promoting NetZero policies, to both national governments and to the power brokers at Davos.

2)  They do produce really terrific charts, graphs and data sets of energy production, usage, distribution, and a wide and far-reaching portfolio of other energy related topics.  This is a very valuable service.  However, given their recent shift to advocacy, one now needs to consider the possibility of bias in those charts and graphs.

3)  Like many other agencies and groups, who’s very names seem to give them authority (which they do not have) the IEA wields much more power than they ought to have – particularly with the elite that meet at Davos. Alternately, it may well be said that Davos wields too much power over the IEA.

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Author’s Comment:

I like  the IEA provided graphs and charts – they are generally very good and informative.  Their analysts do good work. 

I suspect that their NetZero enthusiasm is yet another case of the go-along-to-get-along, band-wagoning of their top executives to “popular causes”.  Similar to almost every professional organization that has issued policy statements on everything from global warming to the use of personal pronouns, all without polling their members.

I might be wrong….

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