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Guest Thinkers

An “Unusual” Personal Decision

Dr. Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, says he has never owned a car. While he admits his decision may seem “unusual” to people in the U.S., the 51-year-old says he’s gone without a vehicle for “reasons of sustainability”—because he feels a personal responsibility to not add to the global problems of pollution and CO2 emissions, and the dangers posed by our over-reliance on oil.

In today’s clip, Birol also talks about how policy makers are finally beginning to consider the impact of energy policies on global poverty. At least 20% of the global population has no access to electricity, but for many years governments didn’t take the necessary actions.  In the last year or two, says Birol, some have begun to improve their policies.

Birol also says that he worries that if the world’s primary commodities get stretched too thin, a global war could result. Yet he is optimistic enough to predict the world of the future as a better place: “I would like to see a world which is much more fair than today, Less geopolitical tensions, and more importantly, using much more cleaner energy in a sustainable way. And that in that world we will have solved our climate change problem.”

This interview is part of a series on business sustainability, “Balancing People, Planet and Profit: The Future of Business Sustainability,” sponsored by Logica. So far, the series has featured interviews with Peter Brabeck, the Chairman of Nestle; Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy on Climate Change, U.N.; Ernst Weizsäcker, Co-chair, U.N. International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management; and Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group. The series examines ways that business interests can be better aligned with the greater social good.


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