IEA Executive Director travels to Beijing for G20 Energy Ministerial

29 June 2016

Dr Birol delivers a keynote address at G20 Natural Gas Day in Beijing on 29 June 2016

Natural gas has a key role to play in the low-carbon transition and the improvement of air quality around the world, Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said in a keynote address at G20 Natural Gas Day in Beijing on Wednesday. Despite low prices and well supplied markets, governments and industry must take action to ensure security of supplies in the coming decades, he said. Dr Birol also highlighted the role that the IEA will continue to play in this respect, based on the new mandate on gas supply security that was given to the IEA at its 2015 Ministerial Meeting.

“There are good reasons to be upbeat about the future for natural gas,” said Dr Birol, “these include its relative abundance, its environmental advantages compared with other fossil fuels, and the flexibility and adaptability that make it a valuable component of a gradually decarbonising electricity and energy system.”

However there are also challenges for natural gas, including the competition that it will face, particularly from renewable energy and other clean energy technologies in the power and transport sectors.

Following his keynote address, Dr Birol met with journalists to present the Special Report on Energy and Air Pollution, launched earlier in the week in London.

“China has made headlines for both the magnitude of its air pollution problem and its commendable efforts to address the issue,” said Dr Birol, adding that to meet air quality targets, China must enact industrial emissions controls, and improve efficiency and tighten standards for heavy duty vehicles. None of this will be possible without effective monitoring, enforcement, and public communication.

To read more about IEA engagement with the G20, click here.

To see the slides of Dr Birol's keynote address at G20 Natural Gas Day, click here.