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China is far ahead in the field of green energy.Here’s why this is dangerous for America

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The world’s two most powerful countries, the United States and China, will meet in Washington this week to discuss climate change. There are also issues with their relationship.

In an ideal world, where the clean energy transition was a top priority, their relationship would be friendlier. Perhaps affordable Chinese-made electric cars would be widely sold in the United States instead of being viewed as an economic threat. Alternatively, there might be less need to mine lithium in environmentally sensitive sites in Nevada because the lithium vital to batteries can be purchased with confidence from China, which controls the world’s supply.

Instead, in the less-than-ideal real world, the United States is balancing two competing goals. The Biden administration wants to reduce planet-warming emissions by encouraging people to buy products like electric cars and solar panels, but it also wants people to buy American products, not Chinese ones. It worries that China’s dominance of global markets for these critical technologies will harm the U.S. economy and national security.

These competing goals will be on vivid display this week as John Podesta, the Biden administration’s top climate envoy, meets for the first time in Washington with Beijing’s climate envoy Liu Zhenmin.

Their talks are likely to overshadow trade tensions.

China’s massive exports, particularly of solar panels and other green energy technologies, have become a real sore point for the Biden administration as it seeks to stimulate the same industries here in the United States.Mr. Podesta harshly criticize China For “distorting global markets for clean energy products such as solar, batteries and critical minerals.”

Not only that, he has also established a working group to explore how to limit exports from countries with high carbon footprints, a practice he calls “carbon dumping.” This was seen as an allusion to China.

It’s unclear whether the Biden administration will impose fees on products imported from high-emitting countries. The idea is backed by a handful of influential Republican lawmakers as a way to protect U.S. manufacturers from Chinese competition.

China has complained to the World Trade Organization about U.S. green subsidies. Podesta called the complaint “extremely ironic” because the Chinese government has invested heavily in the country’s manufacturing industry.

Mr Liu said without Chinese technology, clean energy costs would rise, slowing the global shift away from burning fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet. “We need to keep costs low, otherwise no one will be able to afford the energy transition,” he told Bloomberg recent.

Both are new to their current jobs, but not exactly new. Mr. Podesta was responsible for promoting climate law before taking on a global role after John Kerry retired. Mr Liu is a long-time diplomat who served as a United Nations official before becoming President Xi Jinping’s chief climate envoy.

The United States is not the only country to warn about the proliferation of green products from China.

The EU is investigating whether Chinese-made electric cars benefit from unfair subsidies, and Xi Jinping came under heavy criticism during his visit to Paris this week, when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference on Monday Said: Europe “cannot absorb Massive overproduction of industrial products in China flood its market. “

China dominates the production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric cars and buses, and also processes most of the minerals used in clean energy technology.And Chinese companies have discovered Workarounds for Western Trade Barriersincluding shipping products through indirect routes to avoid tariffs on goods coming directly from China.

This creates a serious dilemma for the Biden administration. It has staked its global reputation on an ambitious climate agenda, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half from 2005 levels by 2030. It is also trying to build a domestic renewable energy industry from the ground up.

Li Shuo, director of the China Climate Center at the Asia Society Policy Institute in Washington, said that competing with China in low-carbon manufacturing is currently a losing battle. “It’s hard to see how the U.S. will build a complete solar supply chain in time to combat climate change, or how U.S.-made solar products will be cost-competitive,” he said. This is not “a battle the U.S. should choose, nor one that A battle America can win.”

This new great power competition poses two risks to the United States. Avoiding rival plants too much could increase costs and slow the clean energy transition. But overreliance on factories in rival countries raises national security concerns and could jeopardize U.S. industry and jobs.

For example, an influx of cheap Chinese cars would threaten the U.S. auto industry and its large, unionized, and politically powerful group of autoworkers. (President Biden publicly courted them by walking on their picket lines during a recent strike.)

Beyond trade, Beijing and Washington disagree on a number of issues, including the status of Taiwan, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and fundamental differences over democratic values.

Megan O’Sullivan said: “In a world without geopolitics, if China wants to provide the world with cheap and abundant clean energy inputs, from solar panels to critical minerals, it will do so by achieving the fastest energy transition And it benefits us all,” he is director of the Energy Geopolitics Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. “But in the real world, for security reasons and against over-reliance on China, countries from the United States to India are duplicating supply chains for solar and critical minerals, which could slow down the energy transition and make it more costly.”

The outcry over Chinese exports comes as the country’s politicians face a challenge unfamiliar to their counterparts in China: elections.

As he campaigned for reelection, Biden highlighted his administration’s investments in renewable energy. He made a point of visiting new factories backed by government incentives, an apparent bid to signal to voters his efforts to revive U.S. manufacturing.

clean energy investment has soared Since passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the government has begun doling out $370 billion in incentives to accelerate the nation’s transition away from fossil fuels and expanded tax breaks for battery production and solar panel manufacturing. Together with the Chip and Science Act, the bill provides $39 billion in incentives for chip manufacturers to invest in the United States, with the direct purpose of reducing dependence on China while supporting U.S. manufacturing.

An analysis published Tuesday by private research group E2 found that 300 renewable energy projects announced Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. More than half are in Republican-controlled states.

Lisa Friedman Contributed reporting.

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