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Biden imposes steep tariffs on important green technologies from China: 'The president is taking a tough strategic approach'

"The president's actions ensure that American businesses and workers have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field."

"The president's actions ensure that American businesses and workers have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The United States is imposing a number of tariffs on notoriously cheaper green technologies from China, leaving some worried about whether the nation can keep up on its environmental ambitions without them, as Politico's E&E News reported.

What's happening?

President Joe Biden recently announced a 100% tariff on electric vehicles from China, which is four times the current rate. Likewise, his administration is doubling tariffs on Chinese solar cell imports to 50%, tripling tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum to 25%, and more than tripling lithium-ion EV battery tariffs to 25% in efforts to help American companies in these industries compete.

Lael Brainard, director of the National Economic Council, told E&E that the increases are necessary because China is subsidizing its industries and flooding global markets.

"The president's actions ensure that American businesses and workers have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field in industries that are vital to our future, such as clean energy and semiconductors," Brainard told the publication. "The president is taking a tough strategic approach, combining investment at home with enforcement against China in key sectors."

Meanwhile, some economists project that the move could raise costs in the short term and slow down the advancement of green technologies like EVs, solar, wind, and other renewable energy systems.

Why are these tariffs important?

It's yet to be decided whether these tariffs will slow America's progress toward a clean energy future or help grow stronger domestic green industries. Either way, it's important that we continue to advance technologies that will help us fight rising global temperatures, which threaten the health and safety of communities.

According to the United Nations, a warming world will bring more severe storms that threaten people and property, hotter temperatures that will lead to an increase in heat-related illnesses and affect the productivity of outdoor workers, and increased droughts that will threaten food and water supplies. 

For instance, one study found that agricultural labor productivity could drop below 40% of full work capacity by the end of the century in certain key food production regions due to unbearable heat.

What's being done to green up the U.S.?

The Biden administration has sought to fight the overheating of our planet through the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law in 2022. One of the goals of the IRA is to create jobs by offering subsidies for clean energy technologies and domestic manufacturing. It also provides Americans with tax breaks on electric vehicles and clean energy solutions for their homes.

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That said, some experts are unimpressed, saying that the IRA has fallen short, only reducing carbon pollution by 4% in its first year. That is double the previous year's pace but still not enough to meet the country's 2030 climate goals, they say.

Nonetheless, the country has seen a number of encouraging developments in green technologies in recent years. For one thing additionally related to some of the industries affected by the changing tariffs, 35 states are getting a combined 500,000 new EV charging stations. Plus, a number of old coal plants are getting new life as renewable energy hubs like solar farms.

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