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Environment

President Trump’s Solar Panel Tax, Aimed at China, Will Also Hurt Americans, Experts Say

The cost of going green in the US just went up.

On Monday, President Donald Trump ordered a 30% tax on foreign-made solar panels, the Washington Post reported.

Trump imposed the taxes in response to calls from two now-bankrupt solar panel producers, both of which are foreign companies that are based in the US, according to the Washington Post, and hopes the new tax will give the US’s solar energy manufacturing industry a boost. 

However, critics say the tax is likely to do more harm than good.

Solar power was the fastest-growing source of energy globally in 2016, the Guardian reported. In the US alone, solar energy use increased by 47% over the last year, according to the Energy Department. And the use of solar energy in the US has help cut millions of tons of carbon emissions, which contribute to climate changeaccording to Vox.

But the president’s new tax is likely to make switching to solar power more expensive, which could discourage people from going green.

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Currently, most solar panels in the US are produced in China — which subsidizes its domestic solar production industry and is the global leader in solar power production — Vox reported

By increasing the cost of Chinese-produced solar panels and cells, the tax would appear to make US-manufactured solar products the more cost effective option; however, the price increase will ultimately be passed onto the consumer, as it is likely to increase the cost of installing the panels, experts said. According to Fast Company, installation costs are already among the highest costs of switching to solar power.

The Solar Energy Industries Association said that the new tax will also cost 23,000 solar installers, managers, and engineers their jobs. Based on the growth of solar power in the US, “solar installer” is slated to become the fastest-growing job in the US over the next decades, the association said. But the president’s tax could harm the growing industry.

“If Trump really wants to put America first, he should reduce our reliance on polluting energy sources that fuel climate change,” senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity Howard Crystal told the Washington Post. “Instead, this profoundly political move will make solar power more expensive for everyday Americans while propping up two failing, foreign-owned companies.”

Read more: 9 Countries That Gave Us Hope on Climate Change in 2017

Environmental activists are concerned that the new tax also will hinder and dissuade other efforts to develop renewable energy, the Washington Post reported.

Global Citizen campaigns in support of climate action and environmental protection. You can take action here to help combat climate change.