View all stories

This Week in Climate: Will Climate Action Spark a Trade War?

In This Week in Climate, we look at how climate progress may be ushering in a trade war between the world’s strongest allies.
Julian Moore
Dec 19, 2022 9 min read
Share this post

When the United States Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) earlier this year, climate hawks around the world had every reason to celebrate.

Sure, the deal didn’t go as far as many hoped, but the bill represented a $369 billion jolt for American climate tech and marked the end of the United States’ tenure as a climate pariah on the world stage.

But in the intervening months, leaders in Europe have become increasingly vocal about their displeasure with the IRA, and the law may have set the stage for a trade war between the United States and its closest allies in the European Union.

French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Business Secretary Grant Shapps have argued that the bill’s generous subsidies to American industries will unfairly impact European industries, making them uncompetitive with American climate tech and shutting European industry out of the lucrative American market.

The main dispute is over electric cars. The IRA passed after Senator Joe Manchin tied EV credits to several made-in-America requirements that would force producers to onshore production to the U.S. That means European automakers would have to move their operations to the United States to sell their cars there, to the detriment of their workers and investors back home.

Needless to say, that hasn’t gone down well among European leaders, and this week they made moves to even the playing field.

Europe Goes on Defense

The first salvo came last week when the European Union announced that it would introduce a Carbon Border Adjustment tax (or Measure) for carbon-intensive products imported into the EU. That means imported products such as steel, cement fertilizers and hydrogen will be taxed upon entering the EU according to the carbon that went into making them.

The idea is to protect European industries, many of which currently have to pay for their carbon emissions under the European Union’s cap-and-trade system.

If European companies are the only ones paying for their emissions, foreign producers that make the same products could sell them in Europe without the cost of carbon, thus undermining European industries.

When asked about how trade partners would respond to the measure, the EU Parliament’s environment committee made no bones about the intent of the law, saying “Of course CBAM will have an impact on our trade partners, because it’s designed to.”

The United States is the EU’s second-largest trade partner after China, and stands to be directly impacted by the CBAM when it goes into force in 2023.

But this week, European leaders intimated they were looking to take further steps. Heads of state across Europe met on Friday to discuss an additional stimulus package that would match the kinds of support given to American industries in the IRA.

No specifics have come forward yet, but it’s clear that European leaders see the competition with the United States in nearly existential terms. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said that without equitable clean tech investment across the EU that “we are in Europe, really, at the point where we risk to be de-industrialized.”

Climate-Trade Dilemma

The intersection of trade and climate policy poses a dilemma for policymakers.

Any way you look at it, the transition to a sustainable economy will be expensive (albeit a hell of a lot less expensive than runaway climate change).

But policymakers can only gain support for their climate action proposals if they can prove to their constituents that those investments will end up back in their pockets through new jobs and tax benefits.

The problems is that, in the short term, those jobs may come at the cost of jobs and investments in countries that have agreed to cooperate openly on economic development. South Korea and Japan have also threatened to lodge formal complaints at the World Trade Organization over provisions in the IRA that would force them to move their operations to the U.S. That’s a highly unusual step for countries with formal free trade deals, which are meant to avoid exactly these kinds of conflicts.

This could have unforeseen political consequences.

In earlier periods of history trade wars often precipitated real wars, although that isn’t the concern these days. The United States and the European Union are locked in a tight competition to keep track with economic growth in China and India, and a new trade war could complicate their alliance as their economies decarbonize.

To complicate matters further, both Europe and the United States are eager to ease their dependence on China for materials critical to clean technologies.

China dominates the supply chain for lithium. Just this week, a pollution scare in Yichun led to the closure of a facility that supplies no less than a quarter of China's lithium.

The spill didn’t appear to have an immediate impact on lithium prices, but it’s another reminder of why the United States and Europe are so eager to get access to critical minerals on their own turf. The question now is how to do it without stepping on each other’s toes at every step of the way.

🌎 Climate Jobs

Check out some of the latest featured jobs below. If you don't see anything that speaks to you, you can always go to Climatebase to explore thousands of other opportunities.


"UtilityAPI is a utility data service for the new energy economy. Hundreds of energy vendors use us every day to request and download utility customer bill and interval data. ..."

  • Python Software Engineer (Remote)
  • Principle Engineer (Django) (Remote)

Flux Marine

"Flux Marine is a high-growth marine technology start-up that is designing electric outboard motors from the ground up without using legacy combustion engine parts. This allows our motors to maximize efficiency and minimize maintenance without compromising performance vs gas engines. . ..."

  • Machinist & Fabricator (Bristol, United States)
  • Electrical Engineer (Bristol, United States)
  • Controls Engineer (Bristol, United States)
  • Manufacturing Engineer (Bristol, United States)
  • Energy Storage Systems Engineer (Mechanical) (Bristol, United States)
  • Mechanical Drivetrain Engineer (Bristol, United States)
  • Computer Software Engineer (Bristol, United States)

Equilibrium Energy

"Equilibrium Energy is a well-funded, Series A clean energy startup backed by some of the most prominent institutional investors in climate. We are building a digital native power company operating at the intersection of grid variability, market volatility, economic optimization, commercial structuring, and risk management, across the end-to-end power value chain.  ..."

  • Staff Product Manager (Remote (Sf Bay Area, Remote))
  • Sr Manager Contract Management and Settlements (Remote (Boston, San Francisco, London,, Remote))
  • Software Engineer (Sr / Staff) - Battery Simulation (Remote (Sf Bay Area Preferred,, Remote))
  • Research Scientist (Staff / Sr Staff) - Power Markets (Remote (San Francisco, Boston, London,, Remote))
  • Principal Data Platform Architect (Remote (Sf Bay Area Preferred,, Remote))
  • Quantitative Analyst - Power Markets (Staff / Sr Staff) (Remote (San Francisco, Boston, London,, Remote))
  • Data Engineer (all levels) (Remote (San Francisco, Boston, London,, Remote))
  • Software Engineer (all levels) (Remote (Sf Bay Area Preferred,, Remote))

David Gardiner and Associates

"For over 20 years, David Gardiner and Associates has worked to catalyze global decarbonization through strategic advisory services. By leveraging decades of practical experience and thought leadership, we provide our clients with tailored research and analysis, long-term strategic planning, and advanced communications through stakeholder engagement and alliance building.  ..."

  • Project and Research Director (Remote (Arlington, VA, USA))


"Soils are alive. A handful of soil can contain hundreds of miles of fungal hyphae, microscopic facilitators of soil and plant health. Science is only now beginning to grasp the profound effects incredible soil fungal biodiversity has on forests. At Funga, we use the forest fungal microbiome to improve forestry outcomes and address the climate crisis while enhancing beneficial microbial biodiversity. ..."

  • Forest Fungal Inoculation Engineer (Austin, TX, USA)

Blue Forest

"Blue Forest is a mission-driven, non-profit organization, leveraging financial innovation to create sustainable investment solutions to environmental challenges. We are an interdisciplinary team of scientists, financial experts and engineering professionals with extensive infrastructure, public sector and Wall Street experience. ..."

  • Private Markets Investment Manager (Sacramento, CA, USA)

Prometheus Materials Inc.

"Prometheus is harnessing microalgae to be used as a living building material, and be utilized as a replacement for traditional portland cement. ..."

  • Director of Marketing & Communications (Remote (Longmont, CO, USA))
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT (Longmont Colorado, Longmont, CO, USA)

Haven Energy

"Haven Energy is a well-funded, seed-stage startup focused on accelerating the adoption of home energy storage through a two-sided marketplace model. We believe that widespread, distributed storage will be a key part of our energy future, helping stabilize the electric grid in the face of increasing climate change-induced weather events, aging infrastructure, and increased electric loads due to home electrification. ..."

  • Operations Manager - Southern California (LA based) (Remote (Los Angeles, CA))
  • Product Management Lead (Remote (Remote - Austin, TX))
  • Senior Software Engineer (Fullstack, Remote) (Remote (Remote - Austin, TX))
  • General Manager - Southern California (Los Angeles based) (Remote (Los Angeles, CA))

Chloris Geospatial

"The global economy urgently needs to transition to new models of operation that remove carbon from the atmosphere and preserve and restore natural capital. Chloris Geospatial is an early-stage company developing technology that will transform the way businesses and governments use data about the environment to guide their investment and carbon management decisions. We use satellite data and artificial intelligence to ..."

  • Forest Carbon Analyst (Remote)
  • Marketing & Communications Associate (Remote)
  • Carbon Markets Business Development Associate (Remote)

Industrious Labs

"Industrious Labs aims to decarbonize heavy industry around the globe by 2045. Three seasoned Sierra Club campaigners – Victoria Chu, Evan Gillespie and Nachy Kanfer – have joined forces to build an organization focused on cleaning up heavy industry and remaking the sector to be a better partner for workers, communities and the environment. Heavy industry is the foundation of modern ..."

  • Philanthropy Director (Remote)

Elephant Energy

We're building the SunRun for building electrification. We help customers upgrade their homes with the latest comfortable, energy-efficient technology: heat pumps, mini splits, EV chargers, induction ranges, etc.  ..."

  • Area Sales Manager (Denver, CO, USA)
  • Product Marketing Lead (Denver, CO, USA)
  • Product Lead (Denver, CO, USA)
  • Operations Ninja / Project Manager (Denver, CO, USA)
  • Home Comfort Advisor (Denver, CO, USA)
  • Project Manager (Denver, CO, USA)
  • Field Sales Consultant (Denver, CO, USA)

NextEra Energy

"NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE) is a leading clean energy company headquartered in Juno Beach, Florida. NextEra Energy owns two electric companies in Florida: Florida Power & Light Company, which serves more than five million customer accounts in Florida and is the largest rate-regulated electric utility in the United States as measured by retail electricity produced and sold; and Gulf ..."

  • Product Manager (Remote (Juno Beach, FL, USA))
  • Go-To-Market Marketing Manager (Juno Beach, FL, USA)
  • Senior DevOps Engineer (Remote (San Francisco, CA, USA))
  • Senior Software Engineer (Remote)
  • UI / UX Designer (Remote)


"CivicSpark is an AmeriCorps program implemented by CivicWell (formerly the Local Government Commission). Each service year, Fellows are placed across California, Colorado, and Washington to build capacity for local government agencies to better address community resilience issues. ..."

  • CivicSpark Fellowship (Hybrid) (California, USA)
  • Senior Project Manager (Remote)


"We deliver software and expert services to help the world’s largest companies stop climate change. Our market-leading products provide companies with the tools and insight they need to reduce the environmental impacts of their businesses, supply chains, and products.  ..."

  • Principal Software Engineer: Back End (Boulder, CO, USA)
  • Staff Software Engineer: Back End (Boulder, CO, USA)
  • People Operations Coordinator (Boulder, CO, USA)
  • Sustainability Project Director (Remote (Boulder, CO, USA))

Aeroseal, LLC.

"Shrinking carbon emissions from buildings with our climate technologies for duct and air sealing. ..."

  • Field Technician (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Technical Services Manager (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Project Manager (San Antonio, TX, United States)
  • Field Technician (San Antonio, TX, United States)
  • Accounting Specialist (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Sales Development Representative (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Application Engineer (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Assistant Auditor (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Project Manager (Dallas, TX, United States)
  • Project Manager (Houston, TX, United States)
  • Field Technician (Dallas, TX, United States)
  • Field Technician (Houston, TX, United States)
  • Senior Electrical Engineer (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Software Engineer (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Senior Mechanical Engineer (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • National Sales Representative, Equipment Sales (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Vice President of Marketing (Miamisburg, OH, United States)
  • Head of Policy and Market Development (Remote (United States))
  • General Interest (Miamisburg, OH, United States)

Living Carbon

"Living Carbon is a public benefit corporation with a mission to rebalance the metabolic system of our planet. We meet this urgency by combining advanced biotechnology with the inherent power of plants to sequester and store carbon.  ..."

  • Research Associate - Tissue Culture and Transformation (San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Head of Carbon Project Implementation (Remote)
  • Plant Care Associate (San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Research Associate - Tissue Culture and Transformation (Charleston, South Carolina)
  • Research Associate - Plant Molecular Physiology (San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Research Associate - Molecular (Charleston, South Carolina)
  • Greenhouse Associate (II) (Charleston, South Carolina )
  • Head of Carbon Solutions (Remote)
  • Executive Assistant (San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Landowner Partnerships Lead (Remote) (Remote)
  • Head of Methodologies & Carbon Project Development (Remote) (Remote)


"Orennia provides data and analytics for investment and capitol allocation for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources ..."

  • Senior Account Executive (Remote)

Nira Energy

"Nira's mission is to convert the US power grid to be 100% fossil-free. Nira is a software platform that helps renewable energy developers (solar/wind) find the most profitable land to build new projects.  ..."

  • Data Engineer (Remote)
  • Account Executive (Remote)
  • Full Stack Engineer (Remote)

That's it for this week! Remember, you can always view thousands of more jobs on

Final reminders...

👋 Get discovered. Complete your profile to be seen by hundreds of employers hiring on Climatebase.

🚀 Accelerate your climate career. Apply to join the Climatebase Fellowship.

🌱 Hiring? Post your jobs to reach tens-of-thousands of Climatebase users and over 30,000 weekly newsletter subscribers.

👋 New here? Subscribe!

❤️️ Share a link to this week's edition

🐦 Let's connect! Follow us on Twitter @Climatebase, and our co-founders @evandhynes and @jhardin925

The Author

Julian Moore