IEA executive director joins Canada’s Natural Resources Minister at Generation Energy forum 

11 October 2017

171011 Birol fireside chat WinnipegDr Birol, far right, speaking with Minister Carr, far left, during the forum, with Rainer Baake, State Secretary at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Jeremy Rifkin, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends. (Photograph: Annette Hester)

WINNIPEG – Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, visited Canada to participate in the Generation Energy forum hosted by Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, the IEA is adding its support to Generation Energy, a society-wide debate on the pathways to an affordable, low-carbon energy future for Canada. 

Prior to the start of the Forum, Dr Birol and Minister Carr met bilaterally to discuss ways in which the IEA can support Canada’s clean-energy transition and provide input to its Presidency of the G7 in 2018 and of the Clean Energy Ministerial in 2019.

In his introduction, Minister Carr said, “Energy investments are long term but decisions need to be taken at a particular point in time. Generation Energy illustrates a generational responsibility as a feature of Canadian policy making.”

“Generation energy is a unique event, as an open, participative and democratic process for reaching a consensus on an energy and climate strategy,” Dr Birol said during his scene-setting address to the forum. “Many countries across the world can learn from this approach.”

171011 Carr Birol Winnipeg

Dr Birol, left, meeting with Minister Carr

Dr. Birol then outlined the state of the global low-carbon energy transition, drawing on the latest IEA analysis, including the recent Energy Efficiency 2017 and Renewables 2017 reports.

The share of renewables in Canada’s electricity generation exceeded 65% in 2016, one of the world’s highest, with hydropower representing 90% of the total. Looking at the future of Canadian renewable growth, Dr Birol stressed that competitive auctions can play a key role in driving down the cost of wind and solar power and that targeted policies are needed to integrate larger shares of renewables in a secure and cost-effective way. This involves a broad range of clean energy technologies, such as dispatchable power plants, regional interconnections, demand response and energy storage.

Dr Birol went on to discuss how decarbonising the transport sector presents particular challenges, with trucks becoming a leading driver of global oil demand and emissions in coming years. While nearly 40 countries have fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars, to date only Canada, China, Japan and the United States have such standards for trucks. He also stressed that in the transition to low carbon fuels, Canada also has a key role to play as a source of reliable oil and gas supply to global markets.

The speech was followed by a discussion with Mr Rainer Baake, State Secretary at Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Mr Jeremy Rifkin, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends and Advisor to the European Union.