Eamon Ryan to co-chair global energy body for key talks on ramping up renewables

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Caroline O'Doherty

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has been elected to co-chair the International Energy Agency (IEA) next year as it begins key talks to speed up the replacement of fossil fuels with renewables.

The intergovernmental body monitors global energy trends and policy for its 31 member countries and 11 association countries, including the world’s biggest energy users, the USA, China and India.

The major oil producing nations of the Middle East are not members but are in regular communication with the agency.

Mr Ryan will share the chair with France’s Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher and together they will head up the main meeting of 2024, the annual gathering of energy and climate ministers.

Mr Ryan is minister for the environment, climate action, transport, communications and energy.

The Department of the Environment said his election was based on “his extensive experience during two terms as Ireland’s minister with responsibility for energy and his internationally acknowledged expertise in renewable energy and climate change.”

“The IEA recognises that climate action is intrinsically linked with the shift away from polluting fossil fuels to clean and sustainable renewables, while also ensuring security of supply of energy, particularly taking account of the current geopolitical situation,” the Department said.

A spokesperson for Mr Ryan said the position complemented the work he was already doing as energy minister and would not interfere with his duties at home.

“He has been to the annual IEA ministerials the past two years and he is across the agency’s work as part of his brief.

“In fact his election is a recognition of his work and of Ireland’s standing in the renewables field.

“The Minister has done a lot of work on the North Seas Energy Cooperation which is about countries in Europe working together on renewables and that’s the way the IEA know things have to internationally.”

Mr Ryan will begin working on preparations for next year’s ministerial meeting almost immediately.

The gathering, which will also mark the 50th anniversary of the agency’s establishment, will aim to push governments further and faster along the clean energy transition.

Mr Ryan worked on energy policy in Europe during his time out of politics and was appointed lead negotiator for the EU on key talks at last year’s COP27 UN climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh.

As chair of the North Seas Energy Cooperation group he negotiated the re-entry of the UK after its Brexit departure, securing important agreement that Britain will be part of future offshore wind interconnection projects.