In rare honour, Executive Director elected as Foreign Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering
06 July 2023
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol today formally became a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering at a prestigious ceremony in Beijing that recognised his services to economics, engineering and international cooperation on key energy issues.
The award of Foreign Academician is China’s highest international distinction in the fields of engineering, science and technology, and a lifelong honour for recipients. Addressing members of the preeminent academy, Dr Birol thanked them for “a truly great honour” and one that he will “treasure dearly”.
The academy’s General Assembly elects Foreign Academicians every two years, which is followed by an official ceremony to bestow membership on distinguished experts for contributions to their respective fields. Other non-Chinese figures to have been elected to the academy include Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and Nobel Prize winners Barry J. Marshall and Satoshi Ōmura.
The President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Professor Li Xiaohong, presented the Diploma to Dr Birol at the special ceremony. President Li said: "I am delighted that Dr Birol will join the academy as a Foreign Academician and we welcome him wholeheartedly. His distinguished services to energy engineering, combating climate change and economics are clear for all to see. Moreover, his work at the International Energy Agency has been critical to enhancing international cooperation and exchange in the field of energy, science and technology between countries all over the world.”
Speaking before members of the academy, Dr Birol said: “I am honoured to receive this distinguished recognition from the Chinese Academy of Engineering. When I was appointed as the Executive Director of the IEA, I made opening the doors of the Agency to major emerging economies a top priority. My first official visit was to China, one of the first countries to join the IEA as an Association member. Now, more than ever, I see the IEA as the engineer of international cooperation and policy dialogue in the energy world.Each day, our agency strives to build bridges that span countries and continents.”
Dr Birol is paying an official visit to China to continue the IEA’s close cooperation on energy and climate issues. The two-day visit includes a series of bilateral meetings with ministers and senior government officials. China became a member of the IEA Family in 2015 and one of the first countries to expand ties in key areas such as energy data and statistics, energy policy analysis, renewables integration, energy efficiency and other clean energy technologies.
Of China’s energy transition, Dr Birol added: “China knows only too well the valuable contribution that engineers make to society. Engineers and the expertise they develop are the very foundation of the global energy transition. Without engineers, there would be no wind turbines, no solar panels, no electric cars or any of the other key technologies that we have come to rely on in the modern world.”
Since joining the IEA Family, China has deepened its ties with the Agency through an extensive three-year work programme to support the country’s energy transition, in cooperation with the National Energy Administration. More recently, the IEA produced an Energy Sector Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality for China in response to the Chinese government’s invitation to cooperate on long-term strategies, specifically the national target of carbon neutrality by 2060. The report showed that achieving carbon neutrality fits with China’s broader development goals, such as increasing prosperity and shifting towards innovation-driven growth.