IEA head Birol named among top influencers
Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has been named one of the most influential 100 persons of 2021 by Time, a political magazine based in New York City, United States.
Birol, 63, who has been the executive director of the agency since 2015, is the only Turkish person that made it to Time’s annual influencer list this year.
“It is very important to represent the energy sector, which is among the most vital sectors for the world economy,” he said. “Representing Turkey is also a point of pride for me.”
John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate and former U.S. Secretary of State, described Birol as “a trusted counselor to world leaders,” in a short piece on Time’s website.
“He’s an objective authority on what it will take to slash carbon emissions and save our planet. His data-driven approach is like Moneyball for the clean-energy revolution,” Kerry said.
“Birol has transformed the International Energy Agency from a body mostly monitoring oil markets into a leading adviser to the world’s major economies across the full suite of energy technologies,” he added.
Building on over 10 years of analysis, this year, the IEA released its first comprehensive road map for reaching global net-zero emissions by 2050 and minimizing the risk of catastrophic climate impacts, according to Kerry’s remarks.
After taking office, Birol led the IEA in its first comprehensive modernization program since its creation in 1974. These efforts focused on “opening the doors” of the IEA to major emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India and South Africa, broadening the IEA’s energy security mandate beyond oil to also cover electricity, natural gas, renewables and the critical minerals needed in many of today’s clean energy technologies.
With new governments joining the IEA, under his tenure, the agency’s share of global energy demand has risen from 40 percent to 75 percent.
Shortly after he joined the agency in the mid-1990s, Birol took the responsibility of the IEA’s flagship publication World Energy Outlook as the chief economist.
Previously, he was named by Forbes and Financial Times as one the most prominent figures in the global energy sector.
Heading a consultative committee at the World Economic Forum, he has been awarded several honors by states including Japan, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Italy.
Birol graduated from Istanbul Technical University’s Energy Engineering Department before doing master’s and doctoral degrees at the Vienna University of Technology.
Time magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said the 100 list features “extraordinary leaders from around the world working to build a better future” who “in a year of crisis have leaped into the fray.”
The 100 list, which is not ranked, included 54 women. It also comprised political figures such as U.S. President Joe Biden, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, former U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who quit their royal duties last year and moved to California to build an independent life.
The list also includes singers Billie Eilish and Britney Spears, as well as Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.