- Job creation claims rest on unreliable assumptions and fuzzy definitions
- Any job increase is likely to be outweighed by job destruction elsewhere
- Other sectors could create more jobs for the same investment
- Claims of higher productivity and income are not backed up by evidence
Articles about this research paper:
"Green" job creation risks backfiring: Lomborg, Reuters (External Link)
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Increasingly, politicians argue that there are economic payoffs from deployment of alternative energy, especially the promise of so-called “green jobs.”
To examine whether this promise stacks up, the Copenhagen Consensus Center askedGürcan Gülen, a senior energy economist at the Center for Energy Economics, Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, to assess the “state of the science” in defining, measuring, and predicting the creation of green jobs.
Dr. Gülen concluded that job creation “cannot be defended as another benefit” of well-meaning green policies. In fact, the number of jobs that these policies create is likely to be offset – or worse – by the number of jobs that they destroy.
Dr. Gülen finds that some research papers used to advocate the idea of green jobs investment have not distinguished between construction jobs (building the wind turbines), which are temporary, and longer-term operational jobs (keeping the wind turbines going), which are more permanent. Moreover, sometimes advocates have assumed, without justification, that the new jobs would pay more than careers in conventional energy.
In other cases, the definition of a “green” job is so fuzzy that it becomes virtually useless. If a sustainability adviser quits a concrete factory and goes to work instead for a renewable energy project, can we really conclude that the number of green jobs has actually increased?
Dr. Gülen finds that some claims of job creation have rested on assumptions of green-energy production that go far beyond reputable estimates.
And he finds that analyses often fail to recognize the higher costs or job losses that these policies will cause. Increasing the cost of electricity and fuel will hurt productivity, reduce overall employment, and cut the amount of disposable income that people have. Once these effects are taken into account, the purported increase in jobs is typically wiped out, and some economic models show lower overall employment. Despite a significant outlay, government efforts to create green jobs could end up resulting in net job losses.
Further, Dr. Gülen shows that there are other economic sectors, such as healthcare, that could actually create more jobs for the same amount of government investment.
And he examines claims of other economic benefits, including increased productivity, higher disposable incomes, and lower operating costs for businesses. Here, Dr. Gülen concludes that the assertions are “not backed up by any evidence and are inconsistent with the realities of green technologies and energy markets.”
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