New Executive Director’s first official visit is to China

9 September 2015

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol (left) meets on 10 September 2015 in Beijing with Administrator Nur Bekri of China's National Energy Administration.

International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol on Wednesday called for a "new era" of institutional ties between China and the IEA, one in which China participates fully in the Agency's work.

Dr. Birol's call came during a visit to Beijing -- his first official foreign trip since taking over on 1 September as leader of the IEA. In remarks to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Dr. Birol said his visit to Beijing is a tangible demonstration of his vision to modernise the IEA.

"A key part of that vision is to develop a truly International Energy Agency," he told officials and diplomats gathered at CASS in what marked his first major public address since taking up his new duties.

Dr. Birol said he was aiming to discuss with Chinese officials ways in which China could become not just a partner but a "full participant" in the work of the IEA, adding, "That may take time, but now is the moment to start working on the process."

Dr. Birol's visit to Beijing this week marks a break with IEA tradition. Instead of using his first official visit as Executive Director to travel to an IEA member country, he made China his first official destination, serving to highlight the critical importance of major developing nations to the international energy system.

"China is a great nation with a leading role in many aspects of world energy," he said. "For China's sake and also for the sake of the rest of the world, it is vitally important that China be a full participant in the international energy debate."

To read Dr. Birol's address to CASS, please click here.