The Green Jobs Fairy Tale

June 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Politicians, having blindly parroted environmentalist rhetoric about green jobs, look increasingly foolish.

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Environmentalists love to talk about green jobs. If only society would follow their advice, we’d apparently be swimming in green employment opportunities. Here’s one such claim, from a Greenpeace website:

More than 200,000 green jobs could easily be created in Alberta [Canada] if the government made renewable energy a priority, says a new report by Greenpeace, Sierra Club Prairie Chapter and the Alberta Federation of Labour. [bold added, web page backed up here]

There’s further talk on that page about “the clean energy economy of the future,” and an almost childlike insistence that “Green jobs are good jobs” and “high-quality jobs.” According to these people:

The green jobs of the future include electricians, computer software engineers, iron and steel workers, electrical engineers, electrical equipment assemblers, welders, metal fabricators, electrical equipment technicians, construction workers, machinists, construction labourers, operating engineers, and electrical power line installers and repairers, and sheet metal workers… [bold added]

You see the problem, of course. Welders and sheet metal workers are the sort of skilled tradespeople that most societies could use more of. But by what flourish of what magic wand have those jobs suddenly become green?

If construction work is now classified as a green job, it becomes distressingly obvious that little new employment has actually been created. This is an accounting trick, nothing more – an example of juvenile, wishful thinking at its most breathtaking. Here’s how that Greenpeace web page ends:

Green jobs will reduce pollution, improve the environment and help build the new, green economy. They will make our economy more stable and less vulnerable to oil markets, reduce our energy consumption and pollution, clean our air and rivers, and diversify our economy – all while building a sustainable, stable future for our children.

And tomorrow the streams will run with soda pop – and gumdrops and taffy will sprout from the shrubbery.

There are now lots of reasons to conclude that the green jobs promise is just another fairy tale. Yesterday Joanne Nova wrote a sobering blog post titled: The data is in: more Green jobs mean less real ones. She cites evidence from Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Denmark. None of it is good.

For good measure, here’s a further reading list:

  • Politifact.com, a project of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper, reports that President Obama’s promise to create five million green jobs “looks bleak
  • Bjorn Lomborg concludes that the promise of green jobs is “false” and conflicts with “economic reality
  • The New York Times says the numbers of green jobs cited by politicians are “a pipe dream
  • A Reuters analysis concludes that green jobs have been “slow to sprout
  • Horowitz & Laksin, authors of The New Leviathan book, declare that the number of genuine, long-term green jobs created in the US in recent years totals 910 – and that each one cost taxpayers $9.8 million

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Entry filed under: Greenpeace, NGOs. Tags: , , , , .

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