IEA wants mandate broadened to include critical minerals to avert new Russia-like vulnerabilities

IEA wants mandate broadened to include critical minerals to avert new Russia-like vulnerabilities <> [image: IEA executive director Fatih Birol] IEA executive director Fatih Birol
23RD MARCH 2022
The head of the International Energy <> Agency (IEA) has called for an expansion of the organisation’s mandate and membership to enable it to support the global transition to a “clean and secure” energy <> future and to ensure that the world’s climate goals do not become “another victim of Russia’s aggression”.
Addressing a gathering of energy <> Ministers in Paris against the backdrop of ongoing market turmoil precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, IEA executive director *Fatih Birol* said the organisation needed to adapt to a fast-changing energy <> environment <>. ADVERTISEMENT <>
Set up in 1974 to provide an oil security <> umbrella to a narrow base of developed countries (a role reinforced recently when IEA members released an initial 63-million barrels of oil stocks to alleviate the tightness in oil markets that followed Russia’s incursion into Ukraine), the IEA partially opened its doors in 2015 to eight emerging economies, including South Africa <>, which were now associate members.
“I now hope we can launch ‘IEA 3.0’, that is an IEA oriented in the right direction to help address both energy <> security <> and tackle climate change,” Birol said. ADVERTISEMENT <>
The IEA would require an expanded mandate to do so, including allowing it to play a role in ensuring a reliable and sustainable <> supply of the critical minerals needed for the transition to renewables-based systems <>, including lithium, cobalt, copper <>, nickel and rare-earth elements.
Speaking from the same platform US Energy <> Secretary *Jennifer Granholm* said it was vital that the world did not trade one energy <> supply chain vulnerability for another.
“I’m talking about minerals and critical materials that are powering so many of our clean energy <> technologies.
“We have to source these materials responsibly; we have to process them sustainably and we have to minimise the carbon footprint from manufacturing <> these at the scale needed to meet the demand,” Granholm argued.
In addition, Birol said the IEA should be empowered to support the accelerated energy <> investments required to place carbon emissions “in rapid decline this decade” by allowing the agency to bring all of its “expertise and tools to bear to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and methane”, including by making its data freely available to energy <> decision-makers.
Thirdly, he said the IEA needed to facilitate deeper relationships among its current 31 members and grow the “IEA family further”. In 2015, China, Brazil, India, South Africa <>, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Morocco were made association countries and Argentina and Egypt are set to join soon.
Birol cautioned, however, that as governments moved to ensure that they kept the lights on in the current difficult energy <> environment <>, they could also not “turn off” their efforts to tackle climate change.
“I am very worried that our climate goals may be another victim of Russia’s aggression,” he said, noting the published figures showed a worrying increase in global emissions, which climbed at their fastest pace in history last year.
Highlighting the dramatic changes that had already arisen as a result of Russia’s military action, Birol revealed that the focus of the Ministerial gathering was meant to have been on progress made at the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of 2021.
“But Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has changed the world, including the energy <> world, and it has given energy <> policymakers an even more complicated range of challenges to confront,” he said, while also suggesting that Russia was set to lose its status as an energy <> superpower.
Granholm argued, meanwhile, that the energy <> transition could represent “our version of the Marshall Plan for clean and secure energy <> in 2022 and beyond”.
“Even as we seek to stabilise fossil energy <> . . . we have to act upon the urgent signals that the world is sending us, that Mother Nature is sending us, a big flashing ‘Code Red’ on humanity, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said.”
Quoting Ireland’s Environment <> Minister *Eamon Ryan*, Granholm added: “No country can hold the wind or the sun hostage.”