IEA convenes new Energy Business Council to assess impact of financial crisis on energy markets and share views on climate change and other pressing energy issues

(Paris) — 10 March 2009

“To overcome the pressing global economic and energy challenges we face, business and government must work together. For thirty-five years, the International Energy Agency has provided a forum for governments to cooperate to find solutions, but we have not previously had a CEO-level group that focuses on both demand and supply side energy challenges and will provide feedback to IEA Ministers. That changed today, with the establishment of the IEA Energy Business Council,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), at the first meeting of the IEA Energy Business Council (EBC) today in Paris. “I am excited to inaugurate this high-level consultative group, which I am sure will quickly produce both new ideas and tangible results,” he added.

Corporate group spans energy sector and globe
The EBC is an executive-level group with 25 members thus far who represent a wide variety of companies involved in different aspects of energy exploration, production and consumption. They range from commodities companies to automobile manufacturers to wind and solar energy producers, as well as industry associations. EBC members’ operations are international. “As we look at energy markets and other global issues like climate change, it is vital to have a perspective that transcends borders. These companies offer business expertise and experience from markets around the world that will bring a new perspective as we seek to tackle challenges that affect all of us,” emphasised IEA Chief Economist Dr. Fatih Birol.

Seeking greater certainty in face of financial crisis and climate change
The IEA World Energy Outlook 2008 underscored the importance of investment across the energy sector, not only to meet new demand but to offset decline rates in current production. In addition, massive amounts of investment will be needed to develop new energy technologies to meet climate change objectives. Yet extreme price volatility, uncertainty about future government policies – especially in relation to climate change – and, most recently, the global financial crisis have raised concerns that the necessary investment is not taking place. “Companies are afraid to invest because the rules and prices keep changing.” said Dr. Birol “As the private sector traditionally accounts for the vast bulk of investment in the energy sector, it is essential for governments to understand what types of long-term stable policy frameworks are necessary to stimulate investment in sustainable energy infrastructure. This is particularly important at a time when governments are launching stimulus packages to spur economic growth and before the nations of the world convene in Copenhagen this December to develop a new climate agreement.”

Next step is IEA Ministerial Meeting in October
The EBC will next meet just before the biannual IEA Ministerial meeting in Paris in October 2009. Members will be invited to report the results of their discussions to the Ministers and to propose further projects and co-operation. “The time for high-level government-industry dialogue on energy has come. The IEA is pleased to host this dialogue,” concluded Mr. Tanaka.

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