The USA has stated to impose import-tariffs on cheaper Chinese solar panels in order to protect its own industry. (see Guardian)
The Obama administration, which regularly champions America’s cleanenergy industry, has delivered modest support for home-grown solar panel makers complaining of unfair competition from China
In a much-anticipated decision, the commerce department on Tuesday said it would impose tariffs of 2.9% to 4.73% on Chinese-made solar panels, after finding the Beijing government was providing illegal subsidies to manufacturers. (Guardian)
Usually, I am supporter of the argument “who cares where REs come from, as long as they come fast!” But here, I somewhat favour Obamas approach. Not, that I am a WTO-expert or very knowledgable on Chinese laws, but I know a bit about US-culture. Americans are very reluctant to take on new turns. They are, somewhat, anti-progressives. This is to say, that they are also very good in taking turns, once they agree upan it in their stubborn Congress. One example: financial markets regulations. Once thought to be out-of-mind leftists lullaby-dreams, now it became true. (Of course not as strongly as I hoped, but better than EU-laws in any case!)
Hence, once the US gets a project on the way, they proceed with it. Think of Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Moon-project or even emission trading (now almost a global conensus-policy). For a switch to renewables, Obama needs to prove to ordinary Americans, that it is job-creating, good for business and nature. To achieve this, he needs some good examples. But until now, there are little to none best-practice examples from this sector. Quiet the contrary: millions were spend without a positive net-effect being felt by the general public. The topic of “harvesting our natural resources like wind, solar…” (Obama 2008) is off the table and shut away prior to the elections. If Obama wants to get the votes of Green Democrats out in November, he needs to be more outspoken on this. In order to not loose votes in the middle, he has to show something.
The tariffs might still be a national-oriented industrial policy with little climate in view, but it could have long term positive effects on the US.