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1 April 2011, Le Monde

Cutting back on nuclear energy will significantly increase CO2 emissions as well as energy prices, according to the latest projection by the International Energy Agency (IEA). In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said that "in case of a partial move away from nuclear energy, CO2 emissions in 2035 could be 500 million tonnes higher than in absence of such a move". This corresponds to the equivalent of five years of worldwide growth in CO2 emissions. As a consequence, "this would make it significantly more difficult to win the fight against climate change", warned Birol. He added that he fully respects the decisions made by governments, such as in Germany, to move against nuclear energy so long as it reflects the wishes of its people. He hopes, however, that both policy makers and citizens will act on the basis of complete information. This is particularly important because any decision at this front would bring implications for the next 40 to 50 years, Birol added.

30 March 2011, Financial Times

Slowing the expansion of nuclear power will harm efforts to fight climate change, push up energy prices and set back goals to secure power supplies, said Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency. Cutting in half the projected new nuclear installations during the next 25 years may add 500 million tons of carbon dioxide output to the global total in 2035, equivalent to five years of extra emissions growth, Birol said today in a telephone interview from Paris. There will be increased difficulty in adding new nuclear power plants, and there will be increased pressure in some countries to close earlier the existing nuclear power plants,” after the Japanese crisis, Birol said. “That would increase the cost of energy for the entire world. It’ll also be bad news for energy security because there is less diversification of the energy mix, and it’ll be bad news for climate change.” We all as energy actors, producers and users have to derive major lessons” from Fukushima, Birol said. “It’s still important to have a realistic assessment of the global energy future, and nuclear still needs to play a role,” he said, citing reasons of “climate change, energy security and having affordable energy for the citizens of the world.”

30 March 2011, Bloomberg

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told AFP that governments must study the implications carefully before making any decision to retire nuclear power plants earlier than expected or shelve plans for new facilities. "Nuclear is a very crucial part of the global energy mix," he said in a telephone interview from the IEA headquarters in Paris as Japan battled to place the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors under control. "A lower nuclear capacity growth in the future may have substantial effect on the global energy mix, energy prices and climate change." In its annual report released last year, the IEA projected that 360 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity would be added worldwide by 2035, on top of the existing 390 gigawatts already in use.

10 March 2011, Kommersant, Russia

Libya’s slide into civil war has already cut oil shipments by 1m barrels per day, slicing into the world’s safety margin. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said the Saudis had covered the short-fall, though Saudi heavy oil is a poor substitute for Libya’s “sweet” crude. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, warned that investments in fresh oil fields across the Middle East “may be deferred for years. The age of cheap oil is over.”

10 March 2011, The Telegraph

Opec, the oil producers’ cartel, will reap $1,000bn in export revenues this year for the first time if crude prices remain above $100 a barrel, according to the International Energy Agency. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said a new assessment showed that the total number of barrels exported by Opec in 2011 would be slightly lower than in 2008, when cartel oil revenues reached $990bn. But if average prices remain around $100 a barrel, Opec’s oil revenues will still reach a record of $1,000bn this year. “It would be the first time in the history of Opec that oil revenues have reached a trillion dollars. It’s mainly because of higher prices and higher production,” Mr Birol said in a Financial Times interview. Another beneficiary from high oil prices is Russia. Mr Birol noted that if oil prices remain at an average of $100 a barrel, Moscow’s oil and gas revenues could increase by about $100bn to $350bn – equivalent to 21 per cent of Russia’s GDP. However, high oil prices have “started to hurt the global economy”, Mr Birol said, adding that he is “very worried for OECD countries, especially Europe”. The IEA is also concerned about the impact the current unrest is having on oil-sector investment in the Middle East and North Africa, which it expects to contribute about 90 per cent of production growth over the next 10 years. “For this to happen, we need to invest now but I see the current geopolitical situation as a major handicap for making the right amount of investments,” Mr Birol said. Read the full article on the FT site (registration required).

8 March 2011,

The IEA will devote a major part of its World Energy Outlook 2011 to an analysis of energy perspectives in Russia, said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol in an interview to the Russian business newspaper Kommersant (interview published in Russian). The Agency plans to look at Russia from a number of angles: the domestic energy market; the role of gas and oil in the Russian economy; the importance of oil and gas exports for Russia, for the region and for the global energy economy. “One very important issue for Russia is the question of energy efficiency”, said Dr Birol “according to our provisional estimates, if energy was used in Russia with the same efficiency as in other parts of Europe, the value of the saved resources would be around USD 80 billion on international markets; that’s around 3.5% of Russian GDP.”

7 March 2011, Hürriyet Daily News

In an opinion piece in the Financial Times, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol and Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the LSE, warn that policymakers are becoming dangerously complacent about the scale of our climate change challenge. “Existing commitments for emissions reductions by 2020 do represent major action. But even if implemented fully, they are collectively not enough to put the world on a path that would give us even a 50-50 chance of avoiding a warming of 2°C above 19th century temperatures. Worse still, recent work by the International Energy Agency has concluded that without full implementation there is a real risk that the 2°C goal will be pushed out of our reach altogether.” Read the full article on the FT site (registration required).

4 March 2011, New York Times

High oil prices driven up by recent Libya situation has become a growing risk and is likely to "weaken the still-fragile economic recovery," Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol said Tuesday. "Europe, especially Italy, France, Germany and Spain, are particularly vulnerable as the region receives over 85 percent of Libyan crude oil exports," the chief economist told Xinhua in an interview, adding that "Europe is also one of the weakest links in the global economic recovery." High oil prices could turn into negative factors "damaging trade balances, reducing household and business income, putting upward pressure on inflation and interest rates," and ultimately "dampening economic growth," Birol said.

3 March 2011, Xinhua News Agency

The cost of oil imports for the U.S., European Union and Japan may rise about 29 percent to $900 billion this year if crude prices average $100 a barrel, according to estimates from the International Energy Agency. This would be almost $200 billion more than the U.S., Europe and Japan might have to spend on crude imports this year, “potentially threatening their economic recoveries,” Fatih Birol, the Paris-based agency’s chief economist, said today.

3 March 2011, Bloomberg

The unrest in Libya has cut the country’s oil output by half, more than it initially estimated, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said yesterday. About half of the world’s 12th largest exporter’s 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of production had been cut, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said, citing industry reports. “This is not good news for suppliers in the market but at the same time it is very comforting that Saudi Arabia showed their readiness to make up (supplies),” Birol said. He added there was a major risk of derailment for the global economic recovery if prices remained at current levels for the rest of the year.