India will soon overtake China as the largest driver of global oil demand, International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol told reporters at a G20 event in New Delhi, India. 

“One of the reasons why we say this is that electrification of cars and buses in China is growing rapidly. I very much hope India will move closer regarding electrification,” he added

Six years ago, the IEA published a report that predicted India could become a centre of global energy affairs, which Birol confirmed at the summit. He added that the country has become a “major” player in terms of solar energy and has “huge potential” for green hydrogen production. He urged the country to explore renewable energy as it “should not miss the opportunity to become a superpower in the green hydrogen business”.

A recently published IEA report showed the increase in estimates of oil demand growth between 2022 and 2028 will come from Asia, with India surpassing China as the main source of this growth by 2027. “Coal and oil have served as bedrocks of India’s industrial growth and modernisation, giving a rising number of Indian people access to modern energy services,” the IEA said in 2022.  

Birol also said the country has abundant renewable energy and hopes India will help international financial institutions to facilitate a clean energy transition in developing countries. 

“India has a big responsibility this year in the G20 presidency. When it comes to climate change, it will be at the centre of G20 negotiations,” Birol told India’s Asian News International.

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He added, “for renewables, electric cars and energy efficiency, I am sure India can succeed”. However, a 2022 IEA analysis showed the rapid growth in fossil energy consumption has led to an increase in India’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, making them the third-highest globally.