Europe Frets U.S. Battery Factory Subsidies Will Hurt, Not Help

European leaders complained for years that the United States was not doing enough to fight climate change. Now that the Biden administration has devoted hundreds of billions of dollars to that cause, many Europeans are complaining that the United States is going about it the wrong way.

That new critique is born of a deep fear in Germany, France, Britain and other European countries that Washington’s approach will hurt the allies it ought to be working with, luring away much of the new investments in electric car and battery factories not already destined for China, South Korea and other Asian countries.

That concern is the main reason some European leaders, including Germany’s second highest ranking official, Robert Habeck, have beaten a path to Vasteras, a city about 60 miles from Stockholm that is best known for a Viking burial mound and a Gothic cathedral.

Officials have been traveling there to court one of Europe’s few homegrown battery companies, Northvolt. Led by a former Tesla executive, Northvolt is a small player in the global battery industry, but European leaders are offering it hundreds of millions of euros to build factories in Europe. Mr. Habeck visited in February to lobby the company to push ahead on its plan to build a factory near Hamburg, Germany. The company had considered postponing to invest in the United States instead.

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