What is the IEA anyway?

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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February 3, 2023 2:27 am

Head of Policy and Education 

Which can be distilled down to a single verb: indoctrination. The whole point of so-called education now is to teach children a particular belief with the aim that they will reject other beliefs, or criticisms. 

the IEA has evolved and expanded significantly

All supranational organisations, eg WHO, have made a grab for more influence and clout and they’re achieving it. The world is told what to do by a man who covered up outbreaks of cholera etc and suits the Chinese well enough for a second term in charge.

We got out of the EU – sort of – but it’s clear that the EU [environmentally etc] was merely a middleman between us and the UN. To really get out of the madness requires leaving the UN. 

I believe Mr Trump had a bash at that in part.

Peta of Newark
February 3, 2023 3:52 am
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 3, 2023 4:01 am

“people have been more focused on energy security than climate change over the past year”

The media really do need to get out more.

February 3, 2023 4:08 am

perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced. (quoting the above).

It is claimed that there is some genetic evidence that humans passed through a genetic bottleneck of 1000 to 10000 breeding pairs about 70000 years ago, controversially linked to the effect of the massive Toba eruption. If this is true (not a geneticist) and given that there are now 8 billion of us I doubt if a little bit more CO2 is going to bother us much as a species, even if some individuals are adversely affected and need help.

Reply to  mikewaite
February 3, 2023 6:19 am

Watched a documentary on mitochondrial DNA and that bottleneck was pointed out.

don k
February 3, 2023 5:21 am

The IEA (International Energy Agency) is not to be confused with the EIA (Energy Information Agency). The latter is a US government operation . Both outfits publish reports on energy. Lots of them. My impression is that the EIA is the more objective of the two. But I could be wrong about that.

Reply to  don k
February 3, 2023 6:05 am

The US-EIA also suffers from bias by carefully tailoring its reports to not run afoul of government-imposed objectives. The head is a political appointee, who usually brings in his own posse.

I talked with one of its analysts about costs assignable to wind electricity, to determine the all-in levelized cost, such LCOE for additional grid augmentation/expansion, and LCOE for increased backup/standby plant capacity and its services.

I was told, that was not EIA procedure. End of discussion

Reply to  don k
February 4, 2023 1:25 pm

I believe that this was done on purpose. Many times I have searched for pertinent Facts on the internet and gotten garbage.

It doesnot add up
February 3, 2023 5:27 am

I had personal dealings with the IEA in its early days. I was involved in exercises exploring how its oil allocation mechanism that was supposed to be invoked in a crisis worked (or more properly, helping to identify its shortcomings). Probably fortunately it was not invoked in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution caused a hiatus in global oil supply, and likewise after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. It was an adjunct agency to the OECD, and shared the same Paris building. The foreign representation at the OECD (diplomats from member countries, overseeing the work of the permanent staff and liaising between the Organisation and their governments) also had oversight of the work of the IEA. That is how it got captured in favour of the climate mafia.

The IEA did do some useful work in identifying national energy policies that were unhelpful to a functioning energy market that offers secure and stable supply. I personally provided a briefing on the effects of US price control on “old oil” not only on supply, but also the wider economic effects on industry around the world arising from the market distortion. I like to think it played a part in persuading the US to abandon price control. It would do well to get back to that sort of work, which would today identify the problems of attempting to move to a renewables dominated supply, and forestall them by limiting it.

February 3, 2023 5:33 am

Government cannot adequately remove snow from streets in the winter or keep up with repair of roads.

Rebuilding the entire world’s energy distribution system sounds a little more challenging.

Reply to  Scissor
February 3, 2023 6:41 am

It is even worse in Canada, with a current government that seemingly cannot do anything right, yet envisions itself a climate leader. It should be noted that most of their climate initiatives have either had no discernible effects or were only half heartedly instituted.

February 3, 2023 5:49 am

I am glad someone is finally giving a red card to the totally biased, agenda-driven EIA.

Its graphs repertoire suffers from inaccuracies and omissions, similar to the subjective, 100-plus, hot-running, computer temperature predictions of IPCC-affiliated entities, which are looking more and more absurd, if compared with objective, 40-y-plus, temperature data of balloons and satellites

It doesnot add up
Reply to  wilpost
February 4, 2023 6:24 am

Do not confuse the US EIA, based in DC, with the IEA, based in Paris.

Steve Case
February 3, 2023 5:52 am

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”.


And maybe the IEA has been successfully infiltrated and taken over by agents of an international left wing cabal of billionaires.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 3, 2023 8:06 am

My own pet theory is that Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, is angling for the top job at the UN – after all it’s about time that job went to a native of Turkey 🙂

Reply to  Dave Andrews
February 3, 2023 9:05 am

after all it’s about time that job went to a native of Turkey

I think you meant:

“after all it’s about time that job went to a native of Turkey

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 3, 2023 12:20 pm

Popular only to Leftist politicians and bureaucrats and their crony capitalist enablers.

Krishna Gans
February 3, 2023 6:00 am

Net Zero, how under these circumstaces:


“The underground coal fire that has slowly consumed Centralia, Pa., isn’t unusual. Many such fires burn around the world.”

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 3, 2023 6:23 am

Out of sight out of mind. That is the green way.

Reply to  strativarius
February 3, 2023 9:06 am

Out of their minds

that’s the green way

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 3, 2023 6:49 am

Those are natural sources, don’t you know?
That brings up a point. Why not expend a little time and effort on suppressing natural sources of atmospheric CO2 rather than targeting us poor peasants?
Of course, burning money emits no CO2, especially when it is someone else’s money..

John Oliver
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 3, 2023 7:10 am

If we can’t put em out why not recover some energy from them?

February 3, 2023 6:38 am

Kip, how is it funded? My taxes?

John Oliver
February 3, 2023 6:41 am

Goal NOT achievable with out some kind of new quick start stand by power generation/better cheaper batt technology. Then only maybe.

Joe Crawford
February 3, 2023 7:06 am

“…the IEA has evolved and expanded significantly since its foundation.

Standard growth of a bureaucracy, i.e. totally independent of the amount of work to be done. Where is C. Northcote Parkinson when you need him :<)

Pat from Kerbob
February 3, 2023 12:14 pm

You aren’t wrong.
Institution capture at work.
You can tell by measuring the decrease in intelligence of press releases.

February 3, 2023 3:12 pm

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.”

I haven’t noticed either honesty nor adherence to science in IEA outputs. IEA descended into advocacy with intent to deceive almost at their founding.

Land of the Lost
February 3, 2023 4:13 pm

The IEA is the International Energy Agency.
The EIA is the US Energy Information Agency.
IEA was created in 1974 to ensure the security of oil supplies, but has evolved over the years. 
EIA neither formulates nor advocates any policy conclusions.
So, which one would be more objective?
I would question anything coming out of the IEA.

Martin Cornell
February 3, 2023 6:48 pm

I agree that the data of much of the IEA output is quite useful. It serves as a petard to hoist the Davos crowd for all to see.

Kit P
February 4, 2023 2:53 pm

What does EIA, IEA, DOE not do?

Produce energy!

Food and energy are needed every day to keep us alive. It is natural for us to be concerned about the security of supply of food and energy.

Germany is done, no more Griff. Was depending on Putin for energy a problem they could not see coming?

China is done! China also imports significant amounts of food and energy. Did they not see that threatening the navies of the world that keep the sea lanes open would end China? Fire one missile at one US Navy ship, and millions of Chinese will die in a famine.

Who will ensure as cargo if it will not make to the intended port?

I would like to live in a world where we die from old age. Shipping coal from the US to China so they can send a TV back does not makes sense top me. However, that is the only way the US can be net zero.

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