Worldwide Vitality Company (IEA) chief Fatih Birol had large goals of turning into a footballer or a filmmaker at a youthful age.
As an alternative, he grew to become a shocking champion of the battle to kick the world’s dependancy to fossil fuels as the chief director of the worldwide vitality watchdog.
Birol, 65, heads the Worldwide Vitality Company, a Paris-based group that was based in 1974 within the wake of the oil disaster to make sure the safety of the world’s provides of crude.
Created by the Organisation for Financial Co-operation and Growth (OECD), the IEA advises 31 rich democracies starting from the USA to Mexico, Japan and European nations.
Its mission has developed in newer years.
As we speak, Birol goes across the globe to press nations to speed up their improvement of renewable vitality and wean themselves off oil, fuel and coal – with IEA knowledge to again his case.
“I am a really direct man, I consider in numbers,” Birol advised Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an interview on the IEA’s headquarters close to the Eiffel Tower.
He cited a Nineteen Seventies French music hit, “Paroles paroles”, which means “phrases phrases”, to press his level.
“There are a variety of ‘paroles’. I consider in numbers. I consider knowledge at all times win,” Birol mentioned.
Final week, Birol made headlines once more by stating that the world “could also be witnessing the start of the top of the fossil gas period” as he gave a preview of subsequent month’s annual IEA vitality outlook report.
Demand for oil, fuel and coal will peak by the top of 2030 due to the “spectacular” progress of unpolluted vitality applied sciences and electrical vehicles, Birol mentioned.
“Some individuals say local weather change will not be actual, some individuals say we should not transfer so quick,” he advised AFP.
“There are totally different views however the rigor of our evaluation will not be questioned,” mentioned the Turkish vitality knowledgeable, who has labored on the IEA for 20 years and have become its govt director in 2015.
The IEA brought on a stir in 2021 when it revealed a roadmap to achieve the Paris Settlement objective of getting a carbon-neutral world by 2050 and limiting world warming to 1.5 levels Celsius (2.7 levels Fahrenheit).
The message from the group that after labored to safe crude provides was blunt: all future fossil gas tasks should be scrapped.
The report has opened the window of “what’s deemed attainable” within the speedy deployment of low-emissions vitality, mentioned Gernot Wagner, a local weather economist at Columbia Enterprise Faculty.
Birol was featured on Time journal’s record of the 100 most influential individuals on the planet that very same 12 months.
Some local weather campaigners have described him as an “surprising hero” within the motion in opposition to world warming.
Such a picture could have as soon as appeared unlikely for a person who labored for six years for the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting International locations (OPEC), the Saudi-led oil cartel.
However Birol mentioned he now goes all over the world telling nations that depend on oil revenues that demand for his or her product will decelerate.
“The true pals say the bitter fact. As an alternative of feeling upset, it is a wake-up name for them to diversify their economies, to not focus their economies solely on the oil revenue,” he mentioned.
Oil trade ‘shock’
Birol has additionally pushed for change throughout the IEA, too, by way of a “modernization technique” that features opening the group’s door to rising nations reminiscent of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.
Of these, Mexico grew to become a full-fledged member in 2018.
He had additionally determined that it was “time to make the IEA a frontrunner in world clear vitality transition”.
He mentioned the United Nations’ 2018 report on the impression of local weather change confirmed the IEA wanted to attract a roadmap for the vitality transition.
The doc “grew to become a benchmark” for governments, buyers and the boards of vitality firms, Birol mentioned, noting that it “was a shock” for the fossil gas trade.
“I am very pleased with that. And we’re coming with an replace quickly,” he mentioned.
Some 300 consultants toil within the IEA’s small, fashionable constructing to provide analyses and projections all 12 months.
The IEA additionally holds conferences to debate the best way to finance the transition or safe uncooked supplies.
Birol, ever the soccer fan, sees his group as an “trustworthy referee” who tells the world “what is true, what’s fallacious.”
He loves his job, although it signifies that he usually misses video games of his soccer membership, Galatasaray.
“I work seven days per week. The reason being I prefer it,” he mentioned. “I prefer it as a result of I see it makes a distinction. These months and years are so vital.”