The myth of green jobs

A new report on green job creation due to the policy of trying to switch energy production to alternative sources such as solar and wind energy has just been published. The report deals with the situation in the United Kingdom, but has parallels for U.S. policy.

The author, Dr Gordon Hughes, is a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh. He was a senior adviser on energy and environmental policy at the World Bank until 2001. He has advised governments on environmental policies and was responsible for some of the World Bank’s most important environmental guidelines.

Some excerpts (British spelling preserved):

Claims by politicians and lobbyists that green energy policies will create a few thousand jobs are not supported by the evidence. In terms of the labour market, the gains for a small number of actual or potential employees in businesses specialising in renewable energy has to be weighed against the dismal prospects for a much larger group of workers producing tradable goods in the rest of the manufacturing sector.

The government target for generating electricity from renewable energy sources will involve a capital cost that is 9-10 times the amount required to meet the same demand by relying upon conventional power plants.

The extra investment required for renewable energy – about £120 bln ($194 billion) – will be diverted from more productive uses in the rest of the economy.

Increases in the cost of energy together with the diversion of investment funds means that many manufacturing firms will either go bankrupt or relocate.

The cumulative impact of these policies could amount to a loss of 2-3% of potential GDP for a period of 20 years or more.

The full report can be downloaded here: The Myth of Green Jobs

See also:

Blowing in the Wind, a look at green jobs This article examines the experience from Spain and Denmark. In Spain for every green job created, 2.2 other jobs were lost. In Denmark, they found “that the effect of the government subsidy [to the wind industry] has been to shift employment from more productive employment in other sectors to less productive employment in the wind industry. As a consequence, Danish GDP is approximately 1.8 billion DKK ($270 million) lower than it would have been if the wind sector work force was employed elsewhere.”

And, of course, in the U.S. there was this: the $535 million in stimulus cash lent to solar panel maker Solyndra, is now lost because Solyndra is bankrupt and out of business, having taken 1,100 jobs with it.

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One comment

  1. The Green jobs our President has helped to “create” are Green because of the Green(money) he has GIVEN to the owners of the businesses (campaign donors and friends).  The Green is the envy Americans feel towards Chilean and Mexican oil rigs in the Guld of Mexico drilling where Obama has ruled that We can’t.  Green is the color of the money we used to make when employed PRIOR to his coming into office.  Green is the color of the money we NOW OWE to China because of the debt that he has created.

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