Interview

with Fatih Birol
IEA Executive Director

Edited by Chiara Martini and Alessandro Federici (ENEA)

(download pdf)

Fatih Birol


As we have seen in submissions to COP21, energy efficiency is at the top of the agenda for a large number of countries. In Italy, within our 2013 National Energy Strategy, energy efficiency is among the seven top priorities with ambitious 2020 targets. But this is the result of a long process: when did energy efficiency become so important at the international level?

The 1973 oil crisis had a fundamental impact on the global energy system. Primarily, it focused attention on the critical importance of energy security and ultimately resulted in the formation of the International Energy Agency (IEA). It also drew attention to the issue of energy efficiency, which had until then been seen as more or less an engineering issue. In the four decades since the crisis, what was once the “hidden fuel” has increasingly been recognized as the “first fuel”.

Indeed with each passing decade, the importance of energy efficiency in energy policy has increased, and today there can be no discussion on energy systems without invoking efficiency …