Analysis & Opinions - The Guardian

It Doesn’t Make Sense: Why US Tariffs on Chinese Cleantech Risk the Green Transition

| June 26, 2024

With historic heatwaves sweeping across the US and other parts of the northern hemisphere, June is expected to be the 13th consecutive month of record-breaking global temperatures. The primary cause, of course, is the enormous amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Despite the existential threat posed by rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, emissions continue to increase at a faster pace than previously anticipated.

On one front, however, progress in the fight against the climate crisis has exceeded expectations. Amid the global shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles and the accelerated adoption of solar and wind power, demand for renewable energy is rapidly rising in the US and the EU.

This increased demand has been fuelled by significant declines in the real prices of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and EVs. In the US, this can be attributed in part to the clean-energy subsidies included in President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and, more significantly, to low-cost Chinese imports.

Alarmingly, new tariffs imposed by the US and the EU on imports of solar panels, EVs, and other equipment, threaten to derail this progress. While estimating the cost of the clean energy transition is a difficult task, even conceptually, the global electricity sector alone is projected to require $3.5tn in capital investment annually between 2021 and 2050. Western countries have demanded that China pay its fair share of these costs, but their own trade policies are starkly at odds with their objectives.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Frankel, Jeffrey.“It Doesn’t Make Sense: Why US Tariffs on Chinese Cleantech Risk the Green Transition.” The Guardian, June 26, 2024.