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Expand chart
Reproduced from IEA; Note: In 2018 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

International Energy Agency data shows that worldwide subsidies that lower consumer costs for fossil fuels grew to over $400 billion last year, their highest levels since 2014.

Why it matters: The persistence of the payments, despite some progress in pricing reforms in recent years in several nations, are among the many headwinds in the effort to combat climate change.

  • And the IEA report doesn't even include various governments' support for fossil fuel production projects.

What they're saying: "The continued prevalence of these subsidies — more than double the estimated subsidies to renewables — greatly complicates the task of achieving an early peak in global emissions," IEA analysts said in a June 13 report.

Where it stands: Higher oil prices in 2018 than 2017 were one driver of the overall increase, while higher energy consumption was another.

  • Oil-related subsidies rose from $143 billion in 2017 to $182 billion last year.
  • Higher petro prices were a strain in countries where consumers faced higher retail costs, "particularly where national currencies were losing value against the U.S. dollar," IEA notes.
  • Indonesia, Iran, Egypt and Venezuela saw the biggest subsidy increases for oil products. Iran, Venezuela, Mexico, Egypt and China all saw higher subsidies for fossil-based power.

The intrigue: Tackling subsidies is tricky — as IEA notes, there's a need to make energy more affordable to poor and vulnerable populations.

  • "But many subsidies are poorly targeted, disproportionally benefiting wealthier segments of the population that use much more of the subsidised fuel," the report states.

Go deeper: 2020 Democrats pushing to end public financing of fossil fuels

Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.