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IEA Head Fatih Birol: China is not doing this for the climate

IEA Head Fatih Birol: China is not doing this for the climate

The head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, says that Europe alone will not stop global warming. However, the continent must accelerate the race towards green industries – for purely economic reasons.

For Fatih Birol, the visit to Vienna is like half a home game. The Turkish-born economist has worked at the IEA in Paris since 1995 and has headed the organization since 2015. In the 1980s, Birol earned a doctorate in energy economics at the Vienna University of Technology, worked at the Naschmarkt alongside his studies, and lived “with a toilet down the hall.” And he still reads “Die Presse” in black and white. Even after that, he initially remained loyal to Vienna and worked for OPEC for several years. Today, his IEA's views and those of his former employer could not be more different. While the petro-state bloc consistently expects a sharp increase in demand for oil and gas, Birol is pushing the world toward change. A conversation about Europe, OMV, new opportunities, old mistakes – and the risk of repeating them.

In our first interview a decade and a half ago, you said, “We can stop climate change by 2017.” Obviously this didn't work. What now?

Fatih Birol: We are now on a path that will see global temperatures rise by 2.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. According to science, this is extremely dangerous for the fragile balance of our Earth. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, wildfires, floods and droughts will increase.

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