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Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Government fuel and electricity subsidies are projected to drop sharply this year due to declines in prices and energy consumption from the pandemic, the International Energy Agency said in a new analysis.

Why it matters: Subsidies for consumption (which the IEA data tracks) and production have long been a target of climate advocates, though supporters of cutting the payments note that some are needed to help low-income people.

  • Reforms have occurred in a number of countries, but progress has been uneven and inconsistent.

The big picture: IEA notes that periods of low prices are typically a good time to implement reforms to cut wasteful and expensive subsidies, especially in countries reliant on energy revenue that are now under financial strain.

But, but, but: These are obviously not normal times.

  • "The overriding economic priority for policy makers so far in 2020 has been to limit the damage from the crisis," IEA notes, pointing to government support programs for households and businesses.
  • "As such, there are few signs so far that low fuel prices are prompting an accelerated effort to phase out subsidies, although pre-existing reform efforts have continued."

What's next: IEA argues that as economic conditions improve, so should efforts to phase out subsidies, while maintaining targeted protections for the poorest and most vulnerable.

  • The goal should be preventing countries with "artificially low" prices from "locking in a new cycle of market distortions that favour polluting and inefficient technologies."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Aug 18, 2020 - Economy & Business

The American real estate conundrum

Reproduced from CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

The housing market has been a solidly bright spot in the U.S. economy in recent months.

Yes, but: There remain serious questions about what the next phase for the market will be as the coronavirus pandemic has created an enormous amount of uncertainty about where and how people will live.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.