Green Unemployment

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

As universities cheerfully prepare their students for the “green jobs” they are sure will await them when they graduate, curriculum development specialists might be neglecting just one thing: How to find “green jobs” when they are invisible.

Over at the National Center for Policy Analysis, H. Sterling Burnett and James Franko have collected studies from the command-and-control economies of Denmark and Germany on their experiences with a “green economy”. Burnett and Franko do not have cheerful news:

Denmark. On Earth Day in 2009, President Obama cited Denmark as another country that has benefited from subsidized green job creation. Like Spain, Denmark’s green industry—primarily wind-powered electricity generation—was heavily subsidized and likely would not have existed without government support. According to ‘Wind Energy: The Case of Denmark,’ a 2009 report by the Center for Political Studies, a Danish think tank:

  • “The Danish government spent $90,000 to $140,000 to create each wind job.
  • “About 28,400 people were employed in the Danish wind industry, but only about 1 in 10 were new jobs—the remaining 90 percent were simply positions shifted from one industry to another.
  • “From 1999 to 2006, the average government-subsidized clean energy technology worker added $10,000 less to the Danish economy than did the average employee in other industrial and manufacturing sectors.
  • “As a result, Danish gross domestic product was about $270 million less than it would have been if the wind industry work force were employed in other sectors.

“Thus, a 2006 report from the Danish Economic Council concludes, ‘The wind power expansion in the 1990s is an example of a policy that was unprofitable from society’s point of view, even taking the economic advantages that the wind business enjoyed into consideration.’

Germany. According to a 2009 report from the Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research:

  • “Germany instituted a feed-in tariff—which requires regional or national electric grid utilities to buy renewable electricity—and as a result, wind energy costs three times as much as conventional energy and solar power costs eight times as much.
  • “The total net cost of subsidies for wind and solar power production since 2000 has topped $101 billion, producing less than 7 percent of the electric power generated nationwide.
  • “The government spent an average of $240,000 in subsidies per each new green job.

“Six studies cited in the report found that the net job effect of Germany’s green job policies were either negligible or negative.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.