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.

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.

Universe works like a cosmological neural network, argues new paper

Controversial physics theory says reality around us behaves like a computer neural network.

Credit: sakkmesterke
Surprising Science
  • Physicist proposes that the universe behaves like an artificial neural network.
  • The scientist's new paper seeks to reconcile classical physics and quantum mechanics.
  • The theory claims that natural selection produces both atoms and "observers".
Keep reading Show less

Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.

Big Think LIVE

Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.

Keep reading Show less

We studied what happens when guys add their cats to their dating app profiles

43% of people think they can get a sense of someone's personality by their picture.

Photo by Luigi Pozzoli on Unsplash
Sex & Relationships

If you've used a dating app, you'll know the importance of choosing good profile pics.

Keep reading Show less

‘Time is elastic’: Why time passes faster atop a mountain than at sea level

The idea of 'absolute time' is an illusion. Physics and subjective experience reveal why.

ESA
Surprising Science
  • Since Einstein posited his theory of general relativity, we've understood that gravity has the power to warp space and time.
  • This "time dilation" effect occurs even at small levels.
  • Outside of physics, we experience distortions in how we perceive time — sometimes to a startling extent.
Keep reading Show less

Quarantine rule breakers in 17th-century Italy partied all night – and some clergy condemned the feasting

17th-century outbreaks of plague in Italy reveal both tensions between religious and public health authorities.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Coronavirus

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts between religious freedom and public health regulations have been playing out in courts around the world.

Keep reading Show less
Quantcast