The International Energy Agency (IEA) should open access to its data!

The International Energy Agency (IEA) should open access to its data!

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L'importance de cette pétition

Lancée par Marin C

Ask the International Energy Agency to open access to its data!

Transitioning to a low-carbon energy system is one of humanity’s most pressing challenges. To understand the problems the world faces and see how we can make progress we need accessible, high-quality data.

This data exists. It is produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA). But the IEA keeps most of its data behind very costly paywalls. This is despite the fact that the IEA is largely funded through public money from its member countries.

The reason that the IEA puts much of its data behind paywalls is that the funders made it a requirement that it raises a small share of its budget through licensed data sales. As a consequence of this requirement, researchers and everyone else who wants to inform themselves about the global energy system needs to purchase a user license that often costs thousands of dollars.

In 2018, the annual budget of the IEA was EUR 27.8 million. Revenues from its data and publication sales finance “more than one-fifth of its annual budget”. That equates to only EUR 5.6 million per year. To put this figure in perspective, it is equal to a cost of 0.44 cents per person per year across IEA member countries.

The IEA wants to be at the “heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative analysis, data, policy recommendations, and real-world solutions to help countries provide secure and sustainable energy for all”. The paywalls the IEA is required to put in front of its data make it impossible for it to achieve its own mission.

The lack of open data hinders progress on the energy transition in several ways:

  1. Duplicated efforts: thousands of researchers and analysts across the world derive the same statistics independently from each other and many hours of work are spent on the same analyses.
  2. Inequalities in data access and perspective: many researchers, especially in poorer countries, cannot afford to buy the IEA data. As many of these countries make decisions about the future of their energy systems right now, it is vital that this data is available as soon as possible.
  3. Credibility and replication challenges: since IEA data – and analyses built on top of this data – cannot be shared, verification is difficult and often impossible. This is compromising two core principles in scientific research: transparency and reproducibility.
  4. Outreach and engagement is difficult: the cost of accessing important data and the restrictions to use it in public however makes it difficult for journalists to do their work on these key global challenges.

The energy and climate sector remains one of the few – if not the only – research area that lags far behind in open access to data. To understand global food systems and nutrition the world can rely on the data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO); in global health we have the World Health Organization (WHO); in poverty and inequality we can rely on the data from the World Bank; in water and sanitation we have the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP). All of these institutions are largely publicly funded and all of them make their databases available as a public good, free and open-access for everyone.

Faced with the urgent and global challenges of global energy access and climate change, accessing the basic data should not be this difficult.  Making this data free and accessible for everyone is a very basic – but critical – first step. If we cannot even manage this, what are our chances of tackling the much bigger international problems facing us?

To fix this problem, the energy ministries that provide finance to the IEA need to change the restrictions on their funding contributions and close the small 5 to 6 million EUR gap.

You find the list of the 30 IEA member countries here. If you want to help move this discussion forward, you can contact your respective energy ministry and ask them to change it.

And you can sign this petition to raise awareness!

Open access to the critical data from IEA will help every nation to fight climate change effectively!


Disclaimer: this petition is based on this brilliant post from Our World In Data. The authors are not affiliated to this petition, it was made by an Internet passerby.

16 ont signé. Prochain objectif : 25 !