A sobering report released on Monday by the International Energy Agency says air pollution has become a major public health crisis leading to around 6.5 million deaths each year, with “many of its root causes and cures” found in the energy industry. The air pollution study is the first for the agency, an energy security group based in Paris, which is expanding its mission under its executive director, Fatih Birol. The agency, whose 29 members are wealthy, industrialized countries, was founded in response to the Arab oil embargo in 1973 to coordinate international responses to energy issues. It is perhaps best known for its monthly oil market reports that are eagerly awaited by traders.
Mr. Birol, an economist, argues that pressing concerns aboutclimate change and the emergence of countries like China and India as major energy consumers and polluters mean that the agency needs to shift its strategy. “To stay relevant,” he said in an interview on Friday, we “need to work much closer with new emerging energy economies.” Mr. Birol has been working to build bridges with China in particular, which energy experts say is crucial to the success of global efforts to reduce emissions.