In January 2018, President Trump imposed a 30 percent tariff on solar panels, his latest body blow to the U.S. clean energy sector’s fast growing solar industry. The Sandpiper rarely comments on national issues; however, this latest action will have an impact on Del Mar’s efforts to embrace a clean energy future. The President said this was necessary to stem the tide in foreign imports of solar cells and modules which pose “a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers.” The tariff is expected to cost 23,000 installation jobs in the solar industry nationwide in exchange for 4,000 jobs added to American companies that manufacture solar panels.
In a thoroughly globalized world, it’s questionable whether tariffs can truly be effective in propping up a domestic industry (in this case, solar panel manufacturing) that’s already shrinking. More importantly, any measure that curtails growth in solar energy installations—whether here or in Beijing—will only lead to an increase in pollution, and the harmful greenhouse gases that have already undermined the well-being of countless species, including us humans. More pollution means more extreme weather patterns leading to more 90 degree+ days, unstoppable wild fires, rising tides rising even higher, and devastating floods. Unfortunately this tariff is but one more strike among a multitude of relentless attacks by the Trump administration on our clean air, renewable energy and our coasts which are now open to drilling.
This disturbing state of affairs makes our efforts to embrace a clean energy future in Del Mar and California all the more critical. The negative impacts of climate change are happening right here. In 2016, Del Mar adopted its Climate Action Plan, and is now working—through its Sustainability Advisory Board—on implementing strategies to reduce fossil fuel use and expand our consumption of renewable energy. Our region has been impacted by devastating wildfires and Del Mar is now planning for the inevitable sea level rise that will threaten not only our beaches, lagoons and bluffs but essential roads and rail as well as public structures such as the Fire Station.
Everyone can and needs to be part of the solution to ensure that climate change trends don’t accelerate. You can fight climate change and support clean energy in a variety of ways: purchase an electric car, get solar panels installed on your roof (prices are still low!), and retrofit your home to make sure it’s as energy efficient as possible. You can also walk or bike instead of driving and vote for candidates who promise to implement policies that seriously address clean energy and transportation options.