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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The climate plans released this week by Democratic presidential candidates Joe BidenJay Inslee and Elizabeth Warren each include provisions to end U.S. government support for new fossil fuel investment overseas.

Why it matters: Many new coal plants — up to 91% in Asia, for example — receive public development support from state-owned enterprises, foreign governments and export credit agencies, or multilateral development banks (MDBs). Reduced access to such financing could mean fewer new plants burning coal, the most carbon-intensive energy source.

Background: Private foreign investors seek high returns when foregoing safer investments in the West, so they are less likely to finance new coal plants in emerging markets if public financing is not available.

  • That's why public money has been needed to help lower the risks of such projects, as China, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. have done across South and Southeast Asia.

What's happening: The Biden and Inslee plans would end financial support for new coal from agencies like the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC), the Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, in addition to working with China and other OECD nations on their own commitments.

  • Warren, in contrast, has focused on ending oil and gas lending from the Export-Import Bank and USIDFC and does not specifically address coal or OECD talks.

Flashback: The Obama administration had announced an end to coal finance, with some exceptions for the world's poorest countries, and negotiated limits on coal finance from export credit agencies with the OECD. It also worked with the World Bank on coal restrictions that were quickly adopted across most MDBs and development finance institutions (DFIs).

What to watch: Inslee's plan proposes that the U.S. join the Power Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), a group of global governments working to phase out coal power, and use its leverage to pressure countries like China.

  • Biden's current plan does not include phasing out coal by 2030, a prerequisite for PPCA membership, though criticism for not taking a strong enough stand on climate could push him to be more aggressive.

The bottom line: Limiting public financial support for new coal plants around the world— 338 GW of which are at a pre-construction stage — could keep developers from bringing all of those online.

Justin Guay directs global climate strategy at the Sunrise Project and advises the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases fall in 41 states

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections fell by 16% over the past week — the third straight week of significant improvement.

Yes, but: The U.S. is still averaging roughly 165,000 new cases per day, meaning the virus is still spreading largely unchecked. And the rise of more contagious variants will ensure that Americans’ risk remains high.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.