The International Energy Agency (IEA) is the organization that, despite its constrained membership, is as close as the world currently comes to a global focal point on the key energy governance arenas. Although when the IEA was established in the 1970s it had the specific and limited purpose of enabling the world’s leading oil consumers to undertake collective action in response to oil supply shocks, it now finds itself at the center of many of the key developments in global energy governance. Its evolution and current challenges reflect the key themes of this special issue: the competition between state and market, the emergence of multipolarity, the particular growing importance of Asia and the rise of climate change on the agenda of key tasks needing governance. The article focuses on where the agency now fits in the larger global energy governance panoply.
The IEA’s affiliation with the OECD should be reassessed to facilitate the agency’s engagement with major emerging oil consumers, particularly India and China.
The IEA’s governing board should systematically assess the agency’s role as a linchpin in a variety of energy-related regimes and consider how to ensure that the IEA is adequately resourced so that it can fill these multiple roles.
The IEA’s highly successful partnership with the G8 will not easily extend to the G20, given the latter’s much more diverse membership and interests. Both the IEA and the G20 governments should look to the experience of the G8’s ‘tasking’ of the IEA for ideas about how to advance the G20 agenda on energy.