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If you’ve unlocked some recent International Energy Agency (IEA) data for a few thousand dollars, it could be the last time you are required to do so. The IEA is suggesting that it could make all its data and analyses free and available to all, Quantum Commodity Intelligence reported on Thursday.
The move will support data transparency, particularly concerning the climate, at a time when the world is increasingly shifting toward green goals. The move comes as the IEA received criticism last year from academics that hiding data behind steep paywalls could impede the free exchange of climate-related data. Free IEA data could further benefit scientific research.
The IEA is currently funded by member countries, including the United States, Japan, and some European countries, but subscriptions support a quarter of its $8.1 million budget. To make up for the revenue lost from subscriptions, IEA members would need to increase their contribution to the IEA. Private contributors could also pitch in to make up for the shortfall.
The move, proposed by the IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol, still must receive the approval of member countries at the next ministerial meeting, which will be held during the first week of February.
"I am hopeful that we may be able to find a creative solution with the support of several members and large philanthropists that could permit us to make it a public good, in the interests of boosting market transparency and promoting good energy/climate decision making," Birol said at the end of December.
Critics of the IEA paywall policy argue that since the IEA is funded through public money by member countries, the data should also be made free to the public.
The IEA does provide some datasets for free to the public, but much of its data—including climate-related data—is hidden behind costly paywalls.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.