Update: The IEA ministerial meeting was initially scheduled for 2nd and 3rd February 2022. This has now been rescheduled for the 23rd and 24th March.
We have some very positive news to share! In 2020 we started a public campaign with the goal of making the largely publicly financed data by the International Energy Agency available to the public. This might now become a reality!
Some background: To tackle climate change we need good data. This data exists; it is published by the International Energy Agency (IEA). But despite being an institution that is largely publicly funded, most IEA data is locked behind paywalls.
Anyone who currently wants access to this energy data has to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to access one dataset. The consequence is that most people in the world, especially also in poorer countries, do not have access to the energy data they need.
This has been the case for decades. It has hindered research efforts; scientific transparency; and has made it unusable for the public discourse. Energy data is crucial to making progress on climate change; this status quo is clearly unacceptable.
Now we have just heard about a major step forward. The IEA has joined our side; it is now on the IEA member countries – most of the world’s rich countries – to make the data available to the public.
The IEA has just announced that it aims to make all of its data and analysis freely available and open-access. This was put forward by the IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol, and has been approved by its governing board already.
There is one step left. In March (23rd and 24th) – the IEA will ask for approval from its member countries. That means it is on the governments of the world’s rich countries to make this happen. If they do not approve it, it would be a missed opportunity to accelerate our action on addressing climate change.
This would be a massive achievement. The benefits of closing the small funding gap that remains greatly outweigh the costs.
There is now large support for the IEA data to be freely available – from researchers to journalists; policymakers to innovators. Many have called for the IEA data to be public. Many thanks to everyone who has joined in pushing this forwards – below we share the links to several articles, petitions, and open letters that have made this possible.
→ Open letter to the International Energy Agency and its member countries: please remove paywalls from global energy data and add appropriate open licenses – by Robbie Morrison, Malte Schaefer and the OpenMod community
→ Energy watchdog urged to give free access to government data – Jillian Ambrose, in The Guardian
→ Opening up energy data is critical to battling climate change – Christa Hasenkopf, in Devex
→ Researchers are excited by ‘tantalising’ prospect of open IEA energy data – Joe Lo, in Climate Home
→ Activists Urge the International Energy Agency to Remove Paywalls Around its Data – Andrew Marquardt and Jeannie Kopstein, in Inside Climate News
→ Open petition letter: Free IEA Data – A site by Skander Garroum and Christoph Proeschel on which you can write a letter to your country’s government.
Many others have written to their governments to ask them to make the IEA’s data available. Many have engaged on social media. And the most important work was surely done behind closed doors – by public servants, by ministers, and most importantly by those people within the IEA who want their careful work to be available to all. Huge thanks to all of you!
We are very close to pushing this over the line. It is on the governments of the world’s richest to take the final step and make the world’s energy data available to the world.