Today in Cleantech

Last week saw the World Trade Organization decide that China had to stop subsidizing its domestic wind power industry, handing a green tech trade victory to the United Steelworkers union and, by extension, the U.S. wind power industry. Now it appears that another China-vs.-the world greentech trade dispute being considered by the WTO — China’s restrictions of rare earth materials —  might be resolved in Europe’s favor. That, at least, according to Karel De Gucht, European Union trade commissioner, who predicted this week in a speech that the WTO’s ruling on China’s rare earths export quotas due next month “will considerably strengthen the position of the European Union,” both on the issue of rare earths and other raw materials. China controls some 97 percent of the globe’s production of rare earths, although efforts by companies such as Molycorp to restart production in the United States, Australia and elsewhere could challenge that dominance in the years to come. In the meantime, prices of rare earths have hit records amidst increasing restrictions China has placed on them over the past 12 months. If the WTO ends up naming those subsidies illegal, as De Gucht seems to be predicting, that could take at least one worry off the minds of the world’s greentech industries.