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On jobs the summary report is also deceptive. We are told: “Globally there are more than 5 million jobs in renewable energy industries, and the potential for job creation continues to be a main driver for renewable energy policies.” What this conveniently overlooks are the studies that show that green jobs destroy many more jobs than they create. A widely quoted study at Spain’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos found that Spain had lost 2.2 jobs for every “green” job created. An April 2010 internal assessment by the former Zapatero government concluded that government subsidies for renewables (which had increased five fold between 2004 and 2010) had driven the price of electricity to 17% above the European average, undercutting the competitiveness of Spanish industry.
As long as Europe clings to its obsession with going green, the situation is likely to get worse. A report in the United Kingdom by the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) and the Trade Union Congress cites steel making, ceramic, paper, cement and lime manufacture, aluminum and basic inorganic chemicals as British industries whose viability is threatened by green policies. EIUG director Jeremy Nicholson reminds his countrymen that these industries “make a significant contribution to UK GDP and exports.” Germany’s third largest aluminum company recently declared bankruptcy. Ulrich Grillo, president of Germany’s trade body for the metal industry, warns the production of metals is at risk in Germany due to high electric prices that “result clearly from the state support system for renewable energies and especially photo-voltaics.” Although Angela Merkel’s Germany has a reputation for fiscal hard headedness, fiscal sanity goes out the window when it comes to green policies. A German utility executive has observed that solar energy in cold and cloudy Germany makes as much sense as growing pineapples in Alaska yet Germany now has half the world’s solar photovoltaic capacity.
Solar and wind facilities are niche products that will depend on subsidies as far as the eye can see. If they were close to being competitive, as the green advocates who put together these reports claim, they would not be so concerned about preserving and extending those subsidies. For profit companies would be investing in the sector without the promise of subsidies on which “investments” are now predicated.
It goes beyond jobs. Increasingly, green spells poverty. Four million of England’s 21.5 million households suffer from “fuel poverty” (defined as when fuel bills take up more than 10% of household income) with the number expected to rise to 9.2 million by 2016, with green taxes and levies the primary culprit. Der Spiegel has reported on the extent to which German low income consumers are paying the price for the move to renewable energy. It quotes Holger Krawinkel of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations: “Approximately every tenth household currently has problems paying for rising energy costs.” Consumer protection advocates blame the unchecked expansion of highly subsidized photovoltaic installations. Consumers, many of them low-income renters who obtain no benefit, are on the hook to pay 100 billion euros over the next 20 years to subsidize photovoltaics installed before the end of 2011.
All this damage to public well being and economic viability is being done in service of an apocalyptic fantasy, namely that man-made global warming is bringing Armageddon . As those many thousands assemble in Rio next week to save the earth we should remember that it is they who are the menace–to progress and prosperity on this planet.
Rael Jean Isaac is author of Roosters of the Apocalypse: How the Junk Science of Global Warming Almost Bankrupted the Western World (Heartland Institute, 2012).
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