The International Energy Agency is looking to business leaders from the energy industry to bring a new perspective on pressing issues such as climate change and the financial crisis.

The Paris-based organisation has convened the first IEA Energy Business Council (EBC), a high-level consultative group that will examine key issues affecting the energy industry. The IEA hopes that the business experience and expertise of the 25 members will quickly produce new ideas for tackling challenges.

“For 35 years, the International Energy Agency has provided a forum for governments to co-operate to find solutions, but we have not previously had a CEO-level group that focuses on both demand and supply side energy challenges and will provide feedback to IEA Ministers,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA at the first meeting of the EBC in Paris on March 11. “I am excited to inaugurate this high-level consultative group, which I am sure will quickly produce both new ideas and tangible results.”

The CEO-level group consists of representatives from a wide variety of companies involved in different aspects of energy exploration, production and consumption. Investment by such organizations will be vital for meeting future energy demand, says the IEA, yet the current financial turmoil is causing problems.

“Companies are afraid to invest because the rules and prices keep changing.” said IEA Chief Economict Dr. Fatih Birol “As the private sector traditionally accounts for the vast bulk of investment in the energy sector, it is essential for governments to understand what types of long-term stable policy frameworks are necessary to stimulate investment in sustainable energy infrastructure.”

Other areas of uncertainty include price volatility and future climate change policy, says the IEA, which underscored the importance of continued investment in its World Energy Outlook 2008. Investment is required not only to meet new demand, but also to offset decline rates in current production and to develop new energy technologies.

The EBC’s next meeting will take place just before the bi-annual IEA ministerial meeting in Paris in October 2009. “The time for high-level government-industry dialogue on energy has come,” said Tanaka. “The IEA is pleased to host this dialogue.”