Monday, 25 January 2016

Climate change: climate jobs: green jobs

The Coalition government had promised to be the 'greenest' and create lots of 'green jobs':
Why did David Cameron promise to lead the 'greenest government ever'? | Climate Home - climate change news

As reported in this blog:
Futures Forum: The Green New Deal
Futures Forum: Green levies and the cost of energy ... the Energy Companies Obligation, the warm homes discount scheme and the Green Deal

This was not to be:
David Cameron's vow to lead 'greenest Government ever' lies in tatters as Tories axe Green Deal home energy efficiency scheme | UK Politics | News | The Independent
Dr James Hannam: The Green Deal isn’t just a failure – it’s a rip off and a scandal | Conservative Home 

As the Sunday Times reported two years ago:

Green jobs promise goes up in smoke

Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor Published: 20 October 2013

Sofie Pelsmakers says the Green Deal is too complex (Francesco Guidicini)

THE Green Deal, the government’s flagship home energy-saving scheme, which was meant to create up to 60,000 jobs by 2015, has instead caused up to 7,000 redundancies, with more likely to follow.

The Green Deal scheme and the energy company obligation (Eco) were designed to make millions of homes cosier and cheaper to heat by helping householders install insulation and other energy-saving measures.

David Cameron pledged in February that they would help make Britain “the most energy-efficient country in Europe”. The government aimed to upgrade 10,000 homes by next year and 14m by 2020. However, so few householders have taken up the scheme that hardly any of the promised jobs have emerged.

Research published in July by the National Insulation Association showed that 5,500 people who used to work in energy-saving schemes that were shut down when the Green Deal and Eco started in January have been sacked.

Green jobs promise goes up in smoke | The Sunday Times

But what do we mean by 'green jobs'?

When Will Politicians Stop Hiding Behind the Phrase 'Green Jobs'?

Jonathan Arnott UKIP MEP for the North East of England


By all means, if you want to support green energy do so. Provided that it's the right green energy, with sensible and joined-up thinking, I'll support it myself. Just don't expect me to support wind power in the UK at present because we don't yet have an affordable solution to the storage problem. In the meantime, we're still busy importing fossil fuels. Wind power won't stop that happening, because most power is needed on the days of the year when there is least wind.

I believe there will come a time, not too far into the future, when tidal power will be a cost-effective and reliable means of generation. Other technologies show promise but may be further off. But please, don't use the disingenuous 'green jobs' argument. It is an intellectually dishonest attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of a public who are spoon-fed soundbites by the media.

In her Left Foot Forward article, Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall is the latest to advance the 'green jobs' argument. She misses the point. Jobs are created whenever a new project is started, whether it's a gas-fired power station or a wind farm. Whether or not the job is 'green' in this sense is largely irrelevant as far as economics are concerned. It may be relevant in other ways, to the environment, and that's the case that the green lobby should make.

The jobs are created when a new plant is built, irrespective of whether or not the plant concerned is 'green', however the word 'green' is to be defined. Do we class nuclear jobs as 'green' because it's effectively a zero-carbon means of production?

Thorny questions like this are generally ignored: the catch-all phrase 'green jobs' is used to stifle debate. It's what the Left in British politics has tended to do well over the years: to find a form of words which, in itself, implies that no reasonable person could possibly disagree. Only by logic, reasoning and deconstruction does the myth find itself exposed - and who can do that in a televised soundbite response?

There are only two possibilities for any form of renewable energy:

1. It is commercially viable without additional subsidies beyond that given to conventional energy

2. It requires additional subsidy

If 1 is the case, then there's no need to make a 'green jobs' argument. The form of energy generation proposed is competitive anyway and will create jobs. In fact, in this case it would be in the interest of industry to create 'green' power without any need for third parties to lobby government.

If 2 is the case, then the jobs will be created whether conventional or 'green' if the extra capacity is created. But the additional subsidy, however it is paid, will cost jobs. As energy bills go up, energy-intensive industries leave the UK and go abroad - often to India. When this happens, do we expect that they'll be using cleaner power than they are here? Oh, our own power consumption will go down but if we take a global perspective then it likely increases carbon emissions rather than lower them. TATA steel are the latest to announce job losses, and no wonder: energy prices are crippling the UK steel industry.

The alternative is to fund through general taxation. If a government spends more money than it needs to on a project, without creating jobs over and above those which would have been created anyway, the money has to come from somewhere. Additional taxation, for obvious economic reasons, leads to job losses.

Far from 'green jobs' actually being new jobs, they lead to a loss of employment elsewhere. One report, now out of date, suggested that for every 'green job' created, 3.7 jobs are lost elsewhere.

So come on, environmentalists. Don't hide behind the phrase 'green jobs'. If you want more renewables now, explain why you believe that environment trumps economics. If you believe that the UK should unilaterally lower our own carbon emissions immediately when the rest of the world isn't, and when our own action would be dwarfed by global trends, please tell us why. Make that case.

In the meantime, I'm going to stick to my view. The globe hasn't warmed for two decades, and we're expecting unusually low solar activity from 2020 onwards. I believe that we have a bit of breathing space to better assess the extent to which climate change will be a problem. None of the models predicted the current hiatus in global warming; perhaps the planet's fragile equilibrium is less unstable than we've been assuming and the earth has a natural resilience.

In short, we have breathing space to do the research we need to make renewables viable. For a change, let's have an honest debate on energy. If we plan for the long term rather than responding out of panic, we just might find that we can do both: keep people in work, and look after the environment. And in all this debate, how easy it is to overlook that the environment is about more than the single measure of CO2 emissions!

When Will Politicians Stop Hiding Behind the Phrase 'Green Jobs'? | Jonathan Arnott

Meanwhile, the demands for 'green jobs' have become even louder, with campaign groups springing up asking for government to 'do something':

About Climate Jobs

We have to stop climate change, and we have to do it quickly. To do it, we will need 150 million new jobs globally for at least twenty years. There are now campaigns in several countries fighting for mass government programs for climate jobs. Most of them started with union support, and all of them are trying to build an alliance of unions, environmentalists, ngos, and faith groups. Here is a short explanation of what we want:

About three quarters of the warming of the world comes directly from burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. To hold back climate change, we need to stop burning those fuels. To do that, we need to have another way to heat and power the world. So we need to:

> Cover the world with renewable energy like wind and solar power to make all our electricity.

> Switch from cars and to buses and trains, and run almost all transport on renewable energy.

> Insulate and convert all homes and buildings to use less energy and to heat with renewable energy.

> Convert and redesign industry to use less energy and to use renewable electricity wherever possible.

(We say ‘renewable’ energy because the world will never run out of sun, wind, waves and tides.)

There are thousands of other things we need to do. But these four things will make most of the difference to cutting emissions from fossil fuels. These measures will require many new workers – our estimate is about 150 million jobs globally, each year for twenty years. Most of these jobs will be in renewable energy, construction, and transport.

About a quarter of global emissions come not from burning fossil fuels but from farming and changes in land use. To cut these emissions we need to change the way we farm, stop cutting down old forests, and plant new forests. Here too there will be many jobs.

It is not realistic to wait for the market to ‘create’ those jobs. The scale of what needs doing is too big, and we need action quickly. Instead, we will need massive government programs in each country. These programs will be different from what politicians usually mean when they talk about action on ‘green jobs’. There are four differences that are essential to understand:

CLIMATE JOBS. A green job can be anything environmental, from a park ranger to a sewage worker. When we say climate jobs, we mean only those green jobs which make a direct difference to greenhouse gas emissions.

NEW JOBS. When we say 150 million jobs globally, we are not counting all the existing jobs in public transport and renewable energy. We mean new jobs. And we want those jobs to last at least 20 years.

GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS. We don’t want governments to wait forever for the market. We want governments to start hiring workers immediately, and hire all of them within a year.

WORKERS GUARANTEE. We want governments to guarantee a new climate job to people like coal miners and refinery workers who will eventually lose their old jobs in a low carbon economy.

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