Founded in 1974, the International Energy Agency (IEA) was initially designed to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil, such as the crisis of 1973/4. While this remains a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded significantly.
The IEA examines the full spectrum of energy issues including oil, gas and coal supply and demand, renewable energy technologies, electricity markets, energy efficiency, access to energy, demand side management and much more. Through its work, the IEA advocates policies that will enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy in its 30 member countries and beyond.
Today, the IEA is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative analysis through a wide range of publications, including the flagship World Energy Outlook and the IEA Market Reports; data and statistics, such as Key World Energy Statistics and the Monthly Oil Data Service; and a series of training and capacity building workshops, presentations, and resources.
The four main areas of IEA focus are:
- Energy Security: Promoting diversity, efficiency, flexibility and reliability for all fuels and energy sources;
- Economic Development: Supporting free markets to foster economic growth and eliminate energy poverty;
- Environmental Awareness: Analysing policy options to offset the impact of energy production and use on the environment, especially for tackling climate change and air pollution; and
- Engagement Worldwide: Working closely with partner countries, especially major emerging economies, to find solutions to shared energy and environmental concerns.
The history of the IEA began with the 1973-1974 Middle East War crisis and its immediate aftermath. While oil producing countries appeared relatively well organized to utilize their new oil based economic and political power, many OECD countries found themselves inadequately equipped with the information and organization necessary to meet the corresponding challenges.
For the most part, these countries permitted excessive and even wasteful and inefficient use of energy - and of oil in particular. Energy conservation measures were woefully underdeveloped and oil production potential was not fully realized, nor was sufficient investment devoted to the development of alternative energy sources. They had also yet to devise a workable system for responding to serious disruptions in oil supply and their organizational arrangements for co-operation could not enable them to cope effectively with the institutional implications of those situations.
The policy and institutional lessons of the crisis led swiftly in November 1974 to the establishment of the IEA with a broad mandate on energy security and other questions of energy policy co-operation among Member countries. The main policy decisions and the Agency framework were firmly anchored in the IEA treaty called the “Agreement on an International Energy Program”, and the new Agency was to be hosted at the OECD in Paris. The Agency would become the focal point for energy co-operation on such issues as: security of supply, long-term policy, information “transparency”, energy and the environment, research and development and international energy relations.
While these remain key aspects of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded over the decades. It is today at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative statistics and analysis and examining the full spectrum of energy issues, advocating policies that will enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy in its 30 members countries and beyond.
The original founding members of the IEA in 1974 were Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway (under a special Agreement), Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. Joining in the following years were Greece (1976), New Zealand (1977), Australia (1979), Portugal (1981), Finland (1992), France (1992), Hungary (1997), Czech Republic (2001), Republic of Korea (2002), Slovak Republic (2007), Poland (2008), Estonia (2014), and more recently Mexico (2018).