Birol Clarifies Recent IEA Report In Conversation With Manchin

June 11, 2021

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement after a conversation with Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), to discuss the agency’s Net Zero by 2050 report that was released in May.

“My discussion with Dr. Birol was a helpful clarification of the findings of the IEA’s recent report. While many interpreted the report as a call for the end of fossil fuels, Dr. Birol made clear that that is not the case. He also reiterated that we need to remain focused on our efforts to innovate in the areas of carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS), hydrogen, nuclear, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Furthermore, the IEA’s projections indicate that 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions growth between now and 2040 will come from emerging market countries, including China. Conversely, emerging market countries represent only 20% of the world’s clean energy investments. This is yet another reminder that the United States and our allies must continue to lead the way on these technologies to use our abundant resources in the cleanest way possible, and hold countries like China accountable for reducing their emissions if we are to reach any climate goals. We also must be cautious and concerned about the anticipated demand spike for critical minerals, for which we are currently beholden to China, and take action to bring those supply chains home.”

Additional clarifications are listed below:

  • The IEA’s recent report notes that many countries have made commitments in support of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by the year 2050. If the world as a whole were to reach this target – in other words, if countries take the necessary steps in terms of policies, research and development, and investments to meet it – the report analyzes what that outcome would mean for global energy demand and the energy mix. In that case, according to the IEA, then current sources of fossil fuel production would meet the demands of the global energy, transportation, industrial and other sectors – rather than requiring new fossil fuel exploration in the near future from going forward.
  • The IEA’s report does not call for the elimination of existing fossil fuel projects, including projects currently operating, approved, or under construction.
  • The IEA remains steadfast in the need for innovation and technologies, specifically in the areas of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS), hydrogen, nuclear, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
  • Furthermore, it is critical that Asian countries address their emissions. IEA’s projections indicate that, if we carry on with our current direction, 90% of the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2040 will come from emerging and developing countries, led by those in Asia. For the moment, clean energy investment in those countries is far too low to change course.
  • If emerging market countries, including China, do not address their emissions, there is no chance at reaching climate goals. The United States and allies taking action alone is vital, but no single country is in a position to change the overall trajectory. All countries have to take action.
  • The United States and its allies are leading the way forward on the innovation needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – including by using our bountiful fossil fuel resources in the cleanest way possible.
  • Demand for critical minerals will continue to increase, by 70 times for lithium alone. The United States must strengthen and expand our efforts to onshore those supply chains or advance alternative technologies so that the U.S. is neither beholden to foreign supply chains nor losing competitive advantages in these critical climate solutions or the materials that make them.