Why Fatih Birol Never Bought a Car

Question: On a personal level, what does sustainability mean to you and how has your perspective changed over time? 

Fatih Birol: I always thought that using more efficient energy sources, pushing the clean energy technologies such as renewable energies are important. I have been thinking that all the time and try to do this in my work here at IEA, but I also took some personal decisions, which may be a bit unusual for the people who are watching this in the United States. I have refused to buy a car for the reasons of sustainability. And I am 51 and since today I have never bought a car, because I believe using cars is one of the main reasons that we pollute the world, increase CO2 emissions and this is also an issue for oil security. 

Question: How has your outlook evolved in the past few years regarding the human ability to change behavior? 

Fatih Birol: In fact we are making this outlook since a few years and at least in the last four or five years we try to make it clear to everybody that the sustainability is a key issue and "business as usual," not changing the current energy policies, is not an option anymore. The current policies will lead us to a catastrophic result in terms of oil supply, in terms of climate change, and third one, which I didn’t mention up until now, the affect of the energy on poverty, namely today 1.5 billion people, at least 20% of the global population they have no access to electricity and it is not a minor issue. In sub-Saharan Africa, in South Asia they cannot use electricity as they do not have it. A mother cannot, or a father cannot keep the medication for his or her child in the refrigerator, and this is a major problem. So looking at these three issues we have been highlighting this in the last three or four years and I have felt from time to time frustrated that the governments did not get the message strong enough. But in the last one year or two I have seen that we have seen some impact and some governments are changing their policies, these governments both in the developed countries and in developing countries which makes me a bit more hopeful than in the past. 

Question: What is your biggest fear when it comes to the future of our planet? 

Fatih Birol: I think my biggest fear is having another global war which might have been a result of sharing the primary commodities in the world. 

Question: How do you picture our world in 25 years, particularly when it comes to business sustainability? 

Fatih Birol: I would like to see a world which is much more fair than today. Less geopolitical tensions, and more importantly, using much more cleaner energy in a sustainable way. And that in that world we will have solved our climate change problem.

Recorded on March 1, 2010

The International Energy Agency chief economist’s biggest fear: that sharing the world's primary commodities could spark another global war.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

CNN files lawsuit against Trump administration

The lawsuit claims the administration violated the First Amendment when it revoked the press credentials of reporter Jim Acosta.

(Photo by Al Drago - Pool/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials were revoked following a heated exchange with President Donald Trump on November 8.
  • The network filed a lawsuit against the administration on Tuesday, claiming the administration has violated multiple amendments.
  • The White House may only revoke the press credentials of journalists for "compelling reasons," not for reasons involving content.
Keep reading Show less

Why millions of Americans didn’t vote during the midterms

Fall is a bad time to hold elections.

Photo credit: Joshua Lott / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Usually, only about 40 percent of eligible voters participate in midterm elections.
  • Political philosopher John Stuart Mill believed it would be for the collective good if everybody voted.
  • Because of logistics, we may need to change the time of year we vote.
Keep reading Show less