In a recent article posted on Forbes.com (“Green Jobs vs. the Environment”) contributor Adam Ozimek makes his case that a U.S. government policy to add a tariff to solar panel cells made in China may be worse for the environment in the long run. His belief is that these tariffs increase the costs for the solar panels and that they are still being purchased abroad (only instead of importing them from China, they are now imported from Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines), so the intended effect of the tariff failed in its purpose, and the increased cost may lead to continued reliance in the U.S. on forms of energy less expensive in the short term than solar power, such as coal or oil.
Ozimek also believes that these policies over-regulate green industry and put an emphasis on preserving jobs in existing technologies instead of allowing innovations in new and cheaper green industries that may help our planet more.
The tariff was instituted because the Chinese government was subsidizing their photovoltaic cell companies in order to keep prices artificially low, making marketplace competition unfair. The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) brought this practice to the U.S. government’s attention. This saga raises an interesting question–should we fight unfair trade policies if they help the environment?