So it’s no surprise that I’m a big advocate of the global clean energy industry, which last year alone generated almost $269 Billion in international business.
In somewhat of a tribute to the growing importance of clean energy in the global economy, there has been a marked increase in the number of clean energy-related complaints being filed with the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
Bloomberg’s Nico Tyabji does an excellent job of highlighting some of these complaints:
The US has complained about local content rules in an Indian solar incentive scheme. Canada said it would appeal a decision against it in a similar case – the first of its kind – while the EU and Japan, who won, have counter appealed.
These scraps at the WTO follow more than a year of clean energy rankles involving almost all the major markets. The first half of 2012 was dominated by the imposition of US duties on solar and wind equipment from China, a move that the EU followed by launching its own investigations into Chinese solar. The Eastern giant, responsible for more clean energy investment last year (at $67.7bn, over a quarter of it) than any other country, hit back with its own investigation into the dumping of polysilicon, used to make solar cells, by US, EU and South Korean companies. Not to be outdone, at the end of the year India started looking at the dumping of solar cells themselves by foreign manufacturers, including those from the US and China.
As Tyabji notes, the emergence of clean energy trade disputes is a recent phenomenon sure to keep international trade attorneys busy for years to come.
For now at least, trade tensions have mainly been run of the mill disputes over renewable energy equipment, rather than new ones over climate policy.
This may change, however, as low-carbon measures become more effective.
If the recent rise of clean energy cases is any indication, it looks like we’re going to see a lot more of these complaints in the WTO for years to come.