As the planet rapidly heats towards catastrophic temperatures that threaten all life on the planet, Donald Trump has decided to decimate the solar industry in America. While ostensibly protecting the few solar firms that make panels in the US, Trump has slapped huge tariffs on imported solar panels that will devastate other parts of the industry based in America.
Advancement in solar technologies is one of the most promising avenues to radically cut down on CO2 emissions and transform the US into a green, renewable and sustainable economy, yet Trump has singled it out (along with imported washing machines) in order to “create jobs in America for Americans.” But as The New York Times pointed out:
While the tariffs may help domestic manufacturers, they are expected to ripple throughout the industry in ways that may ultimately hurt American companies and their workers. Energy experts say it is unlikely that the tariffs will create more than a small number of American solar manufacturing jobs, since low-wage countries will continue to have a competitive edge.
Solar manufacturing now represents just a fraction of the overall jobs that have developed around the solar industry. More than 260,000 Americans are employed in the sector, but fewer than 2,000 of those employed in the United States are manufacturing solar cells and modules, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Far more workers are employed in areas that underpin the use of solar technology, such as making steel racks that angle the panels toward the sun. And the bulk of workers in the solar industry install and maintain the projects, a process that is labor-intensive and hard to automate.
Trump’s motivations likely had nothing to do with protecting American jobs given the Solar Energy Industries Association said that the tariffs would result in the loss of around 23,000 jobs in the solar industry. He almost certainly did it to further wreck President Obama’s legacy and continue his unrelenting war on the environment.
Trump’s monumentally damaging policy will set back America’s trajectory towards a sustainable economy by years, but this matters little to a president who has no regard for facts, evidence or basic decency. It is a needlessly mean spirited policy reminiscent of his Twitter announced ban on transgendered people in the military. Given the popularity of solar panels is soaring in America, it is also a remarkably dumb policy that will hurt him politically in the future — perhaps the only decent thing to come out of this shameful debacle.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.