The widespread efforts to promote green technologies incorporating lithium-ion batteries just became a little easier.

The world's largest lithium producer, Chile's Sociedad Quimica y Minera, or SQM (NYSE:SQM), announced a voluntary 20% reduction in its price for lithium this week. In a move that I believe will pay off in spades for long-term investors in the company, SQM is willing to take a hit to near-term revenue to boost demand and related research initiatives. To help ensure adequate lithium supply, it's also boosting production and preparing to ramp up even further.

SQM's announcement won't make front-page headlines, but the importance of this move in reducing carbon emissions around the world must not be overlooked. Sighs of relief are surely echoing through the boardrooms of Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM) and Honda Motor (NYSE:HMC), because relative affordability remains an important factor in the pace at which hybrid cars are replacing their carbon-hungry kin.

After noting the milestone by Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) last week with the launch of a battery-powered prototype switching locomotive, the race to develop hybrid locomotives also came to mind in the context of this lithium price reduction. I spoke with AHL-TECH CEO Tom Mack, whose company is developing an ethanol-fueled hybrid locomotive. He explained that traditional lead-acid batteries remain preferable in this particular application because of their greater mass, so improved cost metrics for lithium-ion batteries will not alter the landscape for hybrid locomotives.

Lithium-ion battery manufacturers from Panasonic (NYSE:PC) to Advanced Battery Technologies (NASDAQ:ABAT) likely will pass the savings on to customers, but in the final tally they too will benefit from the broader stimulating effect in the global marketplace for these batteries.

I expect that SQM will receive accolades from green-technology stakeholders for this farsighted move to lower the cost barriers to lower-emission vehicles and other important applications for lithium-ion batteries.

The lithium market is dominated by just a quartet of major producers, and this Fool will be watching SQM competitor FMC (NYSE:FMC) for indications of a corresponding price reduction. Not only do I consider this the right move in the long-term interest of these producers, but this was quite simply the right thing to do.

I've always said that SQM was more than just an agriculture stock. If you're looking for more than just a newsletter, then take a low-emissions test drive of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers service. It will help you discover tomorrow's trendsetters today. Start your free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Christopher Barker can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly in the CAPS community under the user name TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He doesn't own shares in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a zero-emissions disclosure policy.