IEA head hails China's leadership in renewable energies, warns of de-globalization risks

2022-05-24 08:21:29Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The International Energy Agency (IEA) chief warned of de-globalization risks and continued high commodity prices at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Monday while highlighting China's role as a global leader in renewable energies.

"We are seeing the prices of oil, gas and coal, all these three commodities prices going up. It's becoming a major risk, together with the high food prices for the global economy," the Paris-based agency's executive director Fatih Birol told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

"I expect in the absence of some positive surprises, we will see oil prices being still high and volatile for the next weeks and months to come."

Following the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, oil prices have since skyrocketed to over 110 U.S. dollars per barrel amid fears of a global economic shock.

In a bid to cool global oil prices, the IEA has released crude and oil products from emergency stockpiles.

After an agreement on April 1 by IEA member countries, the IEA Governing Board confirmed on April 7 that the total amount committed to date stands at 120 million barrels, making it the largest stock release in IEA history.


Clean energy spending earmarked by governments in response to the COVID-19 crisis has risen by 50 percent over the past five months and stands at over 710 billion U.S. dollars worldwide, according to the IEA's Sustainable Recovery Tracker in April.

The amount is more than 40 percent larger than the global green spending contained in the stimulus packages that governments enacted following the global financial crisis in 2008, the agency said.

Birol said however he expected an increase in demand for renewables due to the conflict in Ukraine.

"Renewable energies are growing very strongly. For example, last year and this year, we have seen huge increases in renewables, especially solar. China played a very important role here."

He added: "60 percent of the growth, globally of solar energy came only from China. China was a leader in solar, China is a leader in wind energy, hydropower, and also electric cars. More than half of the electric cars produced in the world come from China today."

In May, the IEA forecast that renewable power is set to break another global record in 2022 despite headwinds from higher costs and supply chain bottlenecks.

Renewables' growth so far this year is much faster than initially expected, driven by strong policy support in China, the European Union and Latin America, which are more than compensating for slower than anticipated growth in the United States, it said in a press release.

Asked about whether he believed the current trend of de-globalization will continue in the near term, Birol said:

"I am rather worried that the current geopolitical context may have severe consequences for the countries working together and we may well see that the trade ties within the countries will be negatively affected from that. This is the realistic perception of mine."

Commenting on his expectations for this year's WEF, the Turkish economist said: "My expectation is to minimize the risks of countries getting divided and that countries reflect on what working together brought them, brought their economies, brought their trade, brought their social lives. This is my hope. But whether or not my hopes will be fulfilled is another question altogether."

The WEF's 2022 Annual Meeting under the theme "History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies" is held in Davos, Switzerland, on May 22-26.


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