From oil security to steering the world toward secure and sustainable energy transitions
Signature of the Agreement Establishing the IEA, 18 November 1974

Signature of the Agreement Establishing the IEA, 18 November 1974.

At the heart of the global dialogue on energy security and clean energy transitions, the International Energy Agency is the world’s leading energy authority. We provide reliable and comprehensive data, analysis, and policy recommendations with the goal of shaping a secure, sustainable and affordable energy future for all while meeting the climate change objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The IEA was founded in 1974 to ensure the security of oil supplies. Energy security remains a central part of our mission but today’s IEA has a wider mandate to focus on a full range of energy issues, including climate change and decarbonisation, energy access and efficiency, investment and innovation, and ensuring reliable, affordable and sustainable energy systems.

The IEA was created in response to the 1973-1974 oil crisis when an oil embargo by major producers pushed prices to historic levels, and exposed the vulnerability of industrialised countries to dependency on oil imports. The newly created autonomous Agency was hosted at the OECD in Paris with an initial mandate for oil supply security and policy co-operation, including setting up a collective action mechanism to respond effectively to potential disruptions in oil supply as well as develop energy conservation policies.

The IEA’s founding members were Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, United Kingdom, and the United States. They were followed by Greece (1976), New Zealand (1977), Australia (1979), Portugal (1981), Finland (1992), France (1992), Hungary (1997), Czech Republic (Czechia) (2001), Republic of Korea (2002), Slovak Republic (2007), Poland (2008), Estonia (2014), and Mexico (2018) and Lithuania (2022). Chile, Colombia, Israel, Latvia and Costa Rica are currently seeking full membership.

In 2015, the IEA’s Ministerial Meeting approved the modernization strategy presented by the Agency’s newly appointed Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol, to strengthen and broaden the Agency’s commitment to energy security beyond oil, to engage with major emerging economies, and to provide a greater focus on clean energy technology, including energy efficiency.

The Agency’s “open door” policy has since allowed the IEA to deepen its collaboration with 13 new countries through the Association programme: Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Thailand, Singapore, South Africa, and most recently, Ukraine, which joined in 2022, and Kenya and Senegal, which joined in 2023. This IEA family of member and association countries now represents over 80% of global energy consumption, up from 40% in 2015.

IEA member governments agreed to further expand the Agency’s mandate at the Ministerial Meeting of March 2022, to guide countries as they build net-zero emission energy systems to comply with internationally agreed climate goals, and to broaden the Agency’s scope to include the critical minerals and metals needed to develop clear energy technologies.

IEA data and reports have long been the gold standard in the energy world. The Agency collects and distributes authoritative energy data from more than 180 countries through its Energy Data Centre. The monthly Oil Market Report, first published in 1983, quickly established itself as the most authoritative and timely source of monthly data, forecasts and analysis for the global oil market. The World Energy Outlook, which has been published as an annual report since 1998, is widely viewed as the most authoritative source of analysis and projections, providing critical insights into global energy supply and demand under different scenarios.

In 2021, the IEA published Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, setting out a narrow but achievable pathway for the global energy sector to reach net zero emissions by mid-century, and establishing a benchmark for national and international climate goals in line with the Paris Agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.

Throughout its evolutions, the IEA has maintained its original collective oil emergency response system mechanism, which is intended to stabilize markets and the global economy. The first collective action was taken in January 1991 during the First Gulf War, and a second in 2005, after hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged oil infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico. A third collective action was taken in 2011, during the Libyan Crisis. The mechanism was activated twice after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

The Agency’s critical role in providing input on energy and climate policy is underscored by its regular participation in global fora including the G7 and G20 summits and the ASEAN and APEC meetings.

The IEA has had seven Executive Directors since its creation: Ulf Lantzke, Germany (1975-1984); Helga Steeg, Germany (1984-1994); Robert Priddle, United Kingdom (1994-2003); Claude Mandil, France (2003-2007); Nobuo Tanaka, Japan (2007-2011); Maria van der Hoeven, Netherlands (2011-2015); and Dr Fatih Birol, Türkiye (since 2015).

Click here to watch a video and explore an interactive timeline celebrating the IEA's 50th anniversary in 2024 and showcasing the Agency's accomplishments over five decades as a leader in the global dialogue on energy.