Why statistics matter so much at the IEA

6 March 2013

Two participants at the latest IEA workshop to help member and non-member countries, plus international organisations and companies, align and improve their collection of energy-related statistics. © OECD/IEA, 2013

The IEA was created to ensure energy security among its member nations, and critical to that security is analysing and recording who uses how much of what form of energy where. Without detailed, complete, timely and reliable statistics on national and international levels, policy makers cannot make sound decisions that safeguard energy supply and access.

So since its creation in 1974, the IEA has been gathering, analysing and sharing energy statistics from its member countries and about the world at large.

Data are even more important now that the world and countries must not just monitor the supply and use of energy but also assess the emissions from fuel combustion, which is why the IEA started publishing in 1997 CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion annually as the benchmark book on energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. 

To improve and broaden its data, the IEA also helps member and non-member countries collect statistics, providing questionnaires and training. Its latest workshop for government and international organisation statisticians, a joint effort by the Energy Data Centre with the Office of Global Energy Policy’s Training & Capacity Building Programme, started 4 March at the IEA headquarters in Paris.  The current workshop includes more than 30 statisticians from around the world, including OECD countries as well as non-members ranging from Algeria to Uganda. Producer and consumer countries alike are represented, as are international organisations and companies.

“Policy makers need detailed and timely data to optimise decisions and actions, and to assess progress and failures,” Deputy Executive Director Richard H. Jones told the current workshop, adding, “This cannot be achieved if global markets are not transparent, and transparency can only be achieved if all countries are fully transparent themselves.”

But IEA data are not just the domain of statisticians or government policy makers: citizens, too, have access to the world’s most reliable figures on all things energy. For the public, the IEA has developed a number of products that make it easy to access IEA data, from the Key World Energy Statistics snapshot of a host of critical global energy graphs and data, with a new version of the booklet’s  iPhone and iPad app uploaded this year, to the ten highly detailed yearbooks monitoring broad energy balances and fuel-specific data, including renewables. All of those books and their supporting electronic services are available at the IEA website.

To ease access to its data, the IEA is redesigning the website’s statistics page. The Agency is also finalising a new manual to help countries collect the necessary data to build meaningful energy efficiency indicators to align with the political will to make energy efficiency a policy priority.