Trump solar tariff ‘will cause disruption’, says UN renewable chief
25 January 2018 | Mitigation
Donald Trump’s decision to place punitive tariffs on imported solar panels has drawn ire from the UN’s renewable energy chief.
On the opening morning of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Rachel Kyte said: “Putting these kinds of tariffs on renewable energy is going to cause some kind of domestic disruption; how much, we don’t know.”
On Monday, the US president placed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels, after two local manufacturers complained to the US trade regulator that cheap Chinese products were swamping their business. The tax will decline over four years to 15% and 2.5GW of cells will be allowed to enter the country tariff-free.
The US Solar Energy Industries Association said on Monday Trump’s decision would lead to the loss of 23,000 jobs this year as higher prices for panels would crush demand for rooftop solar.
Kyte said she felt the move would not stop the solar industry in the US.
“I don’t think that this is more than a blip. You’re not going to turn back the wave of renewable technology with these kind of trade interventions,” she said.
However, she noted that the problem of cheap solar products from China hampering domestic industry was real, and not restricted to the US. In India, tumbling solar prices driven by China have crushed local manufacturers.
“One of the things we have not done yet is internalise the struggle to combat climate change into the trade regime,” said Kyte. “And so we have competing interests around domestic content for – in this case – solar PV panels… [and] an imperative to drive decarbonisation as quickly as possible.”
India was recently forced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to drop protectionist measures against Chinese solar panels.
Indian energy minister Piyush Goyal, who was also on the panel in Davos, would not be drawn to comment on Trump’s move to protect local industries, saying only: “India has chosen to go down the path of clean energy… and that path is irreversible as far as India is concerned. Irrespective of what other countries may do.”
China has already raised the prospect of a WTO appeal against the Trump tariffs.
Source: Climate Change News